Annapolis City Council votes to delay any action on the Market House

| July 31, 2017
Rams Head

After several hours of public testimony in support of the New Market LLC proposal to the Market House, the council ultimately voted to delay any action on their self-imposed deadline of July 31st.

More than a dozen people spoke in favor of the Jody Danek led proposal (New Market LLC) and cautioned the Council that further delay will only exacerbate the City’s bad reputation for being unfriendly to businesses.

The sponsor of this legislation, Alderman Joe Budge, was silent throughout the night despite representing the Ward where the beleaguered facility resides.

Toward the end of the testimony, Harvey Blonder who headed the Annapolis Oyster proposal put forward a compromise solution that the two leading proposals work together with Blonder being the managing partner. Alderwomen Finlayson and Pindell-Charles seemed to be keen on that idea; but the City Attorney said that it would not be something that could be  decided that night. The idea was not received well from  New Market.

In the end, the Council spent an additional hour debating nuances of the deal. Voting to accept a proposal is not binding and merely opens the conversation to negotiate the terms. The main sticking points seem to be that there is no provision in the Request For Proposal to sell alcohol, yet all three have alcohol proposed.  Additionally, two of the proposals assumed that they could utilize the adjacent Hopkins Plaza in their proposal.  Neither of the two leading proposals seemed that they woudl go forward without either of those.

As the Aldermen debated, each demonstrated that they are not completely comfortable with voting for project tonight; yet some supported voting simply to get the ball moving.

Alderwoman Pindell-Charles was prepared to vote tonight but on a joint venture between the firms that did not agree to it.  Alderman Paone is not comfortable with voting at all. Alderwoman Finlayson feels we need to get it right because they did not five years ago and is not comfortable with voting. Mayor Pantelides says he does not have enough information to make a decision tonight. Alderman Arnett has largely remained true to his email this morning where he said that none of the proposals were responsive; he is willing to vote on ranking the proposals, but not comfortable to vote on accepting any proposal tonight. Alderman Littmann is prepared to vote for the proposals and cites that the City set the schedule and is now not upholding their end of the deal. Alderman Kirby suggests that there needs to be more investigation as to what the residents want. He also is not comfortable with ranking the proposals. Alderman Arnett reiterated that there are so many “what-ifs” in the process in terms of code compliance and negotiating that he wants to see them answered. Alderman Budge expressed his concerns with many aspects of this including the financial aspects. Later, Alderman Paone backtracked said he is “extremely reluctant” to not vote tonight.

At 11:15pm, the Mayor called for a vote and the move to accept a proposal failed 7-2 with Aldermen Littmann and Pfeiffer wanting to move forward.

 

How to move forward? The Mayor suggests that the City Manager and Director of Public Works answer the questions presented tonight. After the council receives some clarification and answers, they will take it up at the first meeting in September. August is a break month for the Council.  There is no word if the groups that made a proposal will honor them beyond tonight.

Editor’s Note: Apologies for any typos or grammatical errors. Was a late night. Will correct later.

Rams Head

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