Should an elected official's personal view impact decisions for Crisfield?

What's at stake on upcoming vote for reuse of former Carvel Hall property

By Frances Martinez Myers
Posted 3/3/21

Should any municipality be allowed to prevent an endeavor from doing business in a city simply because some of its elected officials don’t like the product they sell?

The answer to that …

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Should an elected official's personal view impact decisions for Crisfield?

What's at stake on upcoming vote for reuse of former Carvel Hall property

Posted

Should any municipality be allowed to prevent an endeavor from doing business in a city simply because some of its elected officials don’t like the product they sell?

The answer to that question is NO.

To allow such behavior puts at risk any individual or entity’s right to start a business because they are subjected to the likes and dislikes of current sitting elected officials. This is not about specific individuals but more a general questions about municipal leaders having such power. How would such power impact entrepreneurism in a community starving for business development capital?

Obviously, the only criteria with merit to disqualify a business should be whether or not the business proposition is legal in the State of Maryland and the business has the financial ability and experience to launch.

Specific to medical cannabis there seems be lots of conflicting information and questions; whether it uniformly helps people with medical issues, is it addictive and can it be a gateway drug? All good questions and valid concerns. Will recreational use someday be legal in Maryland? The answer is, probably. Is that today’s question and is it relevant? I think not.

The process utilized by the State of Maryland to evaluate and grant licenses for the production of medical cannabis is a very thorough and intensive process. These licenses are not granted on a willy-nilly basis. The fact is, Element MD has already been granted a processing license and sanctioned by the State of Maryland. This is the license they will be using to operate the facility in Princess Anne, currently under construction. They will be here in Somerset County, only 20 miles north from Carvel Hall. This is NOT going to change.

The Carvel Hall facility will not be a retail store and their business will be a business to business operation. If recreational marijuana ever gets approved by the Maryland Legislature, they will dictate the terms associated with granting such retail licenses. This may or may not affect this location.

Addiction has many forms and types. Opioid addiction is a big problem here and throughout the U.S. Yet no one has stopped the manufacture of this drug. It continues to be prescribed by doctors, albeit at a much reduced rate. Alcohol and tobacco addiction has existed forever and the government has not stopped manufacture or sale of these products.

All the conversation about the actual medical merits of cannabis are also irrelevant. There are as many arguments for cannabis’ positive merits as there are against it. Like with all medicines, some are more helpful to some folks than others. Some people have allergic reactions to medicines that force them to seek alternatives. It is not the job of a municipality to consider the merits of any product.

Given Element MD will not be a retail operation, it seems a waste of time to be talking about the merits of a product sold to other businesses.

In addition there are misleading pieces of information out there regarding Element MD’s license. They have been granted a license to process which is the license necessary to operate the Princess Anne location. They initially ranked in the top 10 license applications to the State of Maryland and ultimately made the cut, winning one of the licenses issued. It is my understanding, they have a one out of 3 chance to win the cultivation license and their offer to purchase is not contingent on the granting of that license.

This is a pure business decision, it cannot be an emotional decision. Crisfield should not miss out on selling the Carvel Hall property to a legitimate buyer who met all the RFP requirements and was the leading bid. Can the City afford to walk away from the tax revenue it will generate?

So what's at stake?

This is what Crisfield walks away from if they turn down the offer from Element MD.

  • Element MD made a purchase offer which is said to be at or close to fair market Currently the property is considered a brownfield which has limited its salability and therefore its value.
  • Element MD’s financial information was solid
  • Element MD will remediate the brownfield
  • Element MD will begin to make an initial investment of $12 million within 30 days of receiving their cultivation
  • Element MD expects to create 50 entry level jobs (no experience required, minimum pay of $30K per year) including free day care which is a huge financial saving for a
  • Element MD will install solar panels and will provide the excess energy to the city so as to reduce the cost of power for city
  • Element MD expects to generate $28 million dollar annually in gross

Are Crisfield residents aware of any company who has come to Crisfield in the last 20 years with such an offering? Should we throw away the bird in hand? Our success rate of attracting employers to the area is not very high. However, making a deal with Element MD will help jump start our economic development efforts here in Crisfield.

We would have one new employer to point to, showing we are moving in the right direction and open for business.

Turning down Element MD and restarting the RFP process will delay the existence of a fully operational business significantly beyond [Crisfield City Councilman] Dr. Atkins’ prediction of 2022, primarily because it is a brownfield, requiring remediation.

Giving any elected officials the right to insert the use of their personal beliefs and ideology to make business decisions is a very slippery slope. I am not sure Crisfield is in such a financial state that it can afford to walk away from solid business endeavors.

— Frances Martinez Myers is president of the Greater Crisfield Action Coalition, Inc.