OC’s Somerset Street Changes Clear First Hurdle

OCEAN CITY – Less then a month after the Ocean City
Development Corporation (OCDC) approached the Mayor and City Council with its
new recommendations for the Somerset Street Plaza, it has succeeded in getting
all of them approved on their first formal readings.

The recommendations first surfaced during a work session
back on Feb. 27 and were tabled for further discussion since there were quite a
bit of regulations to be looked at. They resurfaced again last week on March 13
and became the source of a lot of discussion between city officials, ultimately
ending with motions supporting all of OCDC’s recommendations.

First up this week was the resolution to amend Chapter 62
of the City Code concerning commerce taking place on Somerset Street.
Originally, the code prohibited peddlers and solicitors from taking part in
currency exchanges on the Boardwalk and Somerset Street, but was changed to
allow the Segway rental company EC Glider and certain retail carts in the plaza
to be able to conduct their business outside.

According to OCDC, the plan will help vendors on the
street to see if there is a market for their merchandise. Should the area be
profitable, OCDC hopes the vendors would move to a more permanent location such
as Somerset Street itself and rent a building out for further business
expansion.

The next resolution voted on was one to allow use of the
public right of way on the plaza for the display of rental bikes, the display
of Segways and a training ground, and five retail carts. As part of the
condition, the use of the right of way will cost rental displays $750 a year
per business and retail carts $1,500 per cart.

As OCDC Executive Director Glenn Irwin said last week, the
money will go back toward Somerset Street for future improvements since its
hope is that the street can become self-sufficient in the future.

Both of the resolutions passed in a 5-1 vote, with
Councilwoman Margaret Pillas against both and Council Secretary Nancy Howard
absent.

The last resolution voted on dealt with the riding of
bicycles and Segways along Somerset Street, something that was prohibited in
the past. The resolution would reverse that and make it so bikes and Segways
would only be prohibited between 10 a.m.-2 a.m., the same rule that applies for
the Boardwalk.

“We have looked at the bike and Segways as a morning
activity use to bring energy to the street especially in the off season,” Irwin
said last week.

Although
previous discussions by the council dealt with their concerns on bicycle safety
in the area, future talks will look to alleviate the problem by concentrating
on the controversial banana bikes. The resolution was then passed by an
unanimous vote. 

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