By Stephen Hawboldt
At its November session last week, Annapolis County council formally approved the 90-day extension of the current lease with Graves ValuFoods at Cornwallis. The extension was a recommendation of council’s committee of the whole earlier in the month.
Council also created a four-person negotiating team that is charged with reaching a settlement that will ensure the continued operation of the grocery store. The group will report progress to council. The team is composed of Warden Reg Ritchey, councillors Gregory Heming and Alex Morrison, and county CAO, Brenda Orchard.
The future of the grocery store came into question when a five-fold increase in the monthly rent was sought by the municipality who owns Basinview Place. The increase would have been in accordance with the original rental agreement made several years ago.
Graves ValuFoods is the anchor tenant in this facility. The owners said as the increase makes the business unsustainable, the operation would close with the loss of 12 jobs. ValuFoods was set to close on December 1.
While this extension sets the stage for a long-term settlement, not all councillors were in agreement. District 11 councillor, Ron Trimper, said that he had received several calls from citizens who were concerned about county taxpayers subsidizing a private business. He told council that due to these concerns he would not support the extension.
The committee is expected to bring a recommendation to council early in the new year.