Ward 7 newsletter - Market house final vote? and more

Happy Friday everyone. Here are a few updates from the City Council. First, the big one:

Market House

I was on the joint committee that was tasked with negotiating and ironing out the final Market House lease. After 5 separate work sessions entailing well over 30 hours of deliberations with my colleagues, contract attorneys, the original negotiation team, City staff, and the New Market team, we’ve produced what is our final proposed lease for the Market House. We considered all of the public testimony received and spoke about many of the pertinent themes we heard over the course of the 3-4 public hearings that have occurred on the Market House over the past 6-months. This final lease is the best we could negotiate while still having something that is hopefully acceptable to all parties. The fact that neither the Council nor New Market have gotten everything that they wanted, and clearly both are not entirely satisfied, tells me that this may indeed be a good compromise lease for all involved.

There is a lot of misinformation being spread around about the Market House. Suffice it to say, the Market House has historically been a losing proposition, for both the City and the lessee, and we are confident that this lease will change that precedent. We want the Market House to succeed; moreover, we feel a successful Market House can be positive factor for all of downtown. That is why we have viewed this effort, this venture, more as a partnership. Our successes are intertwined; the City, New Market, and downtown businesses. I know there have been charges that New Market is getting a cheaper rent per square foot than downtown businesses. The fact of the matter is, they aren’t. We have done our research into downtown rates, downtown practices with rent abatement, and what we have negotiated is nothing out of the norm. Furthermore, the bids themselves represent the actual market rate for such an operation. We must always remember that the Market House is a public asset. There are public restrooms, public gathering places for customers, indoor and outdoor market areas, and more. They will be featuring a plethora of local produce and foods, much more than I’ve seen offered at other area businesses. This is a unique experience that I am confident will be a success for downtown and for all of our City.

What will happen Monday night is a vote to approve this lease. We will vote to substitute the old lease ordinance with the new (i.e. second reader) and then vote to approve the new, final lease (i.e. third reader). If you have comments on this lease, feel free to reach out to me before the vote Monday night, or you can testify at the beginning of the meeting, but only at the beginning since the public comment has technically closed on this ordinance. Given the lengthy and through public process this ordinance and the Market House itself have gone through, I am planning on voting in favor of its adoption. I feel it's time we made a decision one way or another, and I plan on supporting the vision, enthusiasm, and potential that this lease with New Market represents. That said, as always, I will read all emails and consider all comments received.

Here are some links to the lease materials:

Next Council meeting

The next Council meeting is on Monday, February 12th, at 7pm. As you’ll see on the agenda, there are a number of things that may be of interest.

City attorney

First of all, Mayor Buckley is asking for his choice for the City Attorney, former Montgomery County attorney Richard Melnick, to be confirmed by the Council. I have met with Mr. Melnick and plan on voting to confirm his appointment, unless I hear of something from one of you that gives me cause to do otherwise.

Two public hearings

There will be two public hearing opportunities: one on an ordinance improving the City’s enforcement ability in regards to abandoned vehicles, and the second on plumbing code updates.

Resolution opposing offshore drilling

Resolution R-5-18 confirms Annapolis’ opposition to the federal government’s attempt to open up the Atlantic to offshore drilling. This could have devastating impacts on the Chesapeake Bay and Annapolis, and perpetuates the extraction of fossil fuels that are driving Climate Change. We will join hundreds of other communities around the Country that have passed similar resolutions. This is not up for a hearing this evening but should be at a future meeting.

First readers

There are five ordinances and resolutions up for “First reader.” What this basically means is introduction. They should all then be up for a public hearing at the next Council meeting. They include the above-mentioned offshore drilling Resolution, as well as an Adequate Public Facilities ordinance that deals with school overcrowding. I intend to support all of these ordinances on First Reader, though I do not yet know how I will vote on many of them (except the aforementioned two that I will be supporting) when they come before us for Second and Third Reader.

Resolution supporting State legislation

We will also be voting on two Resolutions that support two pieces of State legislation: the Prescription Drug Affordability Initiative and The Maryland Clean Energy Jobs Initiative. I plan on supporting both of these but welcome your feedback.

Other announcements

  • The Annapolis Police Department has announced the creation of a new Citizen Advisory Board. They are looking for residents who are interested in serving on this board.
  • Visit Annapolis & Anne Arundel County have compiled a list of activities to help you celebrate Black History Month.
  • Transition Teams - Transition 2018 has been working on identifying issues, suggesting solutions and identifying new opportunities. Once complete, they will present a report of recommendations to the City Council and Mayor for their consideration. If you want to know more about who is on Transition 2018, you can check out www.talktotransition.com
  • [State event] February 20, 2018: FOREST CONSERVATION ACT (FCA) LOBBY DAY

Join the Maryland League of Conservation Voters for the FCA Rally Your Reps Day, where we'll advocate for a stronger Forest Conservation Act in Maryland! Come meet with your elected officials in person in their offices in Annapolis with a group of like-minded constituents and tell them why forests are important to you and why they should support improving the Forest Conservation Act and "Vote Yes!" on SB 610/ HB 766.

Random (or not so random) thoughts

Rob Savidge

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