The 24 pages of a draft Memorandum of Agreement (MoA) is a proposed binding contract between the City and state agencies needed to allow state funds to flow to the hotel project while that project looses the wrecking ball on the state’s last remaining 19th century tannery site. It’s to be a four party agreement among
1. City of Frederick, the hotel project sponsor and proposed land owner and condominium principal
2. Plamondon Hospitality Partners (PHP), the Hotel Advisory Committee’s (HAC) choice of developer, the HAC being by most accounts a kind of City Hall backroom shop, but according to the City Attorney’s pleadings to a state compliance board is just a creature of the Chamber of Commerce, Frederick County (CCFC) for which the City takes no responsibility
3. Maryland Historical Trust (MHT), the state’s designated historic regulatory agency, located within the state Planning Department and overseer of local governments wanting to wreck ‘historic resources’ on projects getting state grants
4. Maryland Department of Housing and Community Developments (DHCD) which has made grants to the Frederick hotel project already, one of which was cancelled when the deadline for use expired
The draft-as-released MoA is very much a work-in-progress.
According to Richard Griffin’s Jan 25 cover email to the Mayor and Board of Aldermen, it represents a City-proposed variant to a draft written by the state DHCD. DHCD have not yet signed-off on the City proposed variant. Also the draft released by Griffin reflects nothing of MHT’s thinking because they haven’t yet responded to the circulated draft.
So neither state agency has approved this document! It is a City wished-for contract.
Griffin told the Mayor and Board that the draft was being provided to them because ‘a private citizen’ (me) had been given a copy under the Public Information Act. I’m not that important! The Public Information Act provides solid legal grounds for withholding working documents like this. More likely I was given a copy so it could be made generally public. In action here is a bargaining tactic commonly used on this project to generate a sense of inevitability about the City-preferred version something or other.
Release-to-make-fait-accompli, you could call it.
Maryland Stadium Authority tired of being misrepresented with this tactic and dumped the Frederick hotel project when it was deployed once too often. DHCD and MHT are just beginning to learn the City of Frederick’s modus operandi for the hotel.
Here is the text of the cover note from hotel project manager Richard Griffin dated Jan 25 2:40pm:
Mayor and Aldermen,
Please find attached the current draft version of the Downtown Hotel and Conference Center MOA (and exhibit A) between the City, Maryland DHCD, and Maryland MHT which has been provided by the legal department to a citizen pursuant to a PIA request. I am sending it to you so you also have a copy.
The MOA was drafted initially by Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD), reviewed by City legal, planning, and economic development and sent back to DHCD and MHT for their final review and sign off. We expect to receive final MHT comments soon. I am asking Matt in Planning to pass the draft along to the HPC as well.
Once the terms are finalized by staff from each organization, the final draft will be placed on a Mayor and Board Workshop Agenda and Public Hearing for input, public comment, and approval.
Copy of the working draft MoA as distributed by Griffin, lacking DHCD and MHT sign-off. It comprises two documents, the main MoA
and a larger addendum Exhibit A a ‘treatment plan’
Headline for a forthcoming report:
State-City MoA a potage of wacky Whereasses, Stipulations to no one in particular, unpriced shopping lists & potted history
Written from the Sneeze & Wheeze Ward of FMH having been liberated from IV lines, oxygen and antibiotic tubes, and multiple monitors for treatment of a nasty flu/pneumonia/A-fib combo. And handicapped by a laptop keyboard with an erratic space bar.