Council renews show's lease

The Baltimore Sun

The promotion company that has put on Annapolis' annual boat shows for almost 40 years will continue to run the shows at least through 2014, after the Annapolis city council approved legislation renewing a lease with the promoter, despite an offer of higher rent from a competing company.

The ordinance grants a lease to United States Yacht Shows Inc. for 2013 and 2014. City Dock Productions LLC had put in a bid to organize the show for 2013 at a higher rent plus additional financial considerations, which could have totaled hundreds of thousands more for the city, City Dock representatives contended.

Those who supported United States Yacht Shows said that shows of such magnitude require management from an experienced company with strong financial backing. City Dock Productions was formed in July.

"It was a wise decision," said Ed Hartman, president of United States Yacht Shows. "Our company has produced these shows for 39 years very successfully. We have the seasoned staff. We have about $2 1/2 million of infrastructure, and we have the cash in the bank to be able to put on these events. And of course we have a history of success."

But Tim Dowling, managing member of City Dock Productions, said that he and his business partner, Jim Barthold, have long histories in the boat show industry as former employees of the boat show, as well as private financial support.

"We're just literally dumbfounded," Dowling said about the council's decision. He said that the council never gave the proposal diligent consideration - nor a "legitimate reason" for rejecting it. Dowling said he had 28 years experience working with the boat show and Barthold had 35 years.

Other legislation that the council took up on Monday included:

* Recycling: The council unanimously approved an ordinance allowing for commercial recycling. The city recently expanded its list of items that can be recycled, and businesses are now included in the recycling effort.

* Aldermanic term limits: The council rejected a bill that would set a two-term limit on the City Council. Alderwoman Classie Gillis Hoyle, a Democrat who represents Ward 3, said the bill would only be likely to affect her. Hoyle and Ward 5 Alderman David H. Cordle Sr. are the only aldermen on the council in their second terms, but many expect Cordle to run to be the city's next mayor, the election for which would be held later this year.

* Sprinklers: Unanimously passed was an ordinance that makes changes to the city's sprinkler laws. Under the new language, homeowners who expand their homes' square footage by 50 percent or more will be required to add residential sprinklers.

The law had previously set the standard that those expanding 50 percent or more of their homes' value would have to add the systems, raising the concern that the law placed an unfair burden on owners with less-expensive homes.

Fire chief Jerome Smith said he encourages the standard to be lowered to 25 percent of a home's square footage so that more homes would be required to add sprinklers. Ward 6 Alderwoman Julie M. Stankivic said that she planned to introduce legislation that would do that, provided residents could receive a tax credit for the changes.

* Homeless shelter: The council postponed voting on a bill that would waive city fees for the Light House Homeless Prevention Support Center. The council will hear public comment on the bill and vote on it Feb. 9. Some oppose waiving the fees, which come to about $200,000 and include building and grading permit fees, water and sewer connections fees and charges and capital facility charges, because of the current budget crisis.

Supporters of the bill say the center would be the first of its kind in the city, and having to pay the fees might postpone the center's construction, slated to start July 1.

All public meetings and hearings taking place in Annapolis city council chambers, including the council meetings, are televised on Verizon and Comcast. Verizon broadcasts are on Channel 34, and Comcast broadcasts are on Channel 99, except in southern Anne Arundel, including Edgewater, Deale and Shady Side, where Comcast broadcasts are on Channel 100.

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