OCEAN CITY — In the brief this week, Trimper’s Amusements started an informal conversation with the Planning and Zoning Commission about a desire to put some additional amusements just off the Boardwalk and the 45th street village project continues to debate major vs. minor changes.
Off-Boardwalk Amusements Eyed
At Tuesday’s Planning and Zoning Commission meeting, local attorney Regan Smith spoke on behalf of several members of the Trimper family about the desire to have the Amusement Overlay district be extended just off the Boardwalk between Worcester and South Division streets, near the popular H2O underage niteclub.
Smith said that although the Trimper family has no immediate plans to put new rides on the proposed site, he says that the company would like to secure the spot for planning for the future.
“Our long-term goal is to be certain that we have a large enough parcel to use if we would like to put rides in,” said Smith. “Currently, the economic viability of a few of those buildings down there is limited, so we hope to bring those into the amusement overlay district for the future.”
Originally, Delegate Jim Mathias, who owns property on the street, had some early reservations over extending the amusement overlay district off the Boardwalk, but according to Smith, is now in full concurrence.
“We have the support of not only the Mathias family, but also from H2O co-owner Robbie Rosenblitt to make the area an amusement overlay,” said Smith.
The Windsor Corporation owns certain properties that Trimper’s Rides are placed on and the Trimper family owns others, according to Smith. The code provides for an amusement overlay district to exist within the B-1 zoned area, but extending it to an amusement overlay would simply allow the family to operate amusements on those sites.
If the Trimper’s eventually decide to move forward with plans to add amusements to the area, Mayor Rick Meehan said that there would more than likely be many people that would stand behind such an idea, as he pointed to the huge influx of emails he received when there was talks several years ago about the possibility that the organization could leave Ocean City.
“If they want to expand it and enhance what they currently offer for the future of Trimper’s rides, I think that is terrific, and I think you’ll find a lot of other people around Ocean City that would feel the same way,” the mayor said.
The idea or informal proposal also received support from the OCDC Executive Director Glenn Irwin and the Planning and Zoning Comission as a whole.
“This will simply add to the downtown area, and give people something else to do off the Boardwalk,” said Irwin.
Once the family files an official application, the discussion would then move to a public hearing.
45th Street Project
Changes Discussed Again
The back and forth between the Planning and Zoning Commission and those behind the planning of the proposed project that would vastly alter the appearance of the 45th street Village complex continued on Tuesday, but in the end, came to a new compromise.
The commission has been outspoken in its desire to ensure that the footprint of the complex that property owner Avi Sibony plans to build at the 45th Street Village is not too large.
“We want to create something great for the town, especially in this large of a space, and I don’t think that this is it,” said commission member Peck Miller in November.
Keith Iott of Iott Architecture and Engineering and Thomas Coates of Coates, Coates, and Coates law firm pitched a revised plan for an approximately 9,900-square-foot retail space set back some 75 feet from Coastal Highway near the front of the property, while still retaining the plans to possibly build a 12- and 17-story hotel and condominium complex along the bay in the rear of the complex.
During the last discussion, Sibony had said that there was no possibility that the 12- and 17-story buildings would ever be built in these economic conditions and had verbally agreed to trim back the scale of the plans so that he could build a larger retail space than the 7,600 square feet that was approved by the commission last August.
However, Sibony apparently changed his mind on Tuesday morning, leading to yet another spirited debate between Iott and the commission about what was deemed to be a major change to the project and a minor one.
Will Esham, the commission’s legal counsel, said the amount of changes that are going on could be enough to perhaps send the project back to the proverbial starting point in the approval process, which is something that he said the commission is trying to avoid for everyone involved.
“Making the buildings smaller doesn’t always mean that it’s a minor change,” said Esham. “If you take several stories off a building, that’s a major change. There’s a lot of changes going on with this project that I think I would have to say that this is major. But, they may have to do a major change just to make this project work.”
The compromise included making the proposed retail space in the front of the property more of a square shape rather than rectangular and will now be 7,800 square feet, which is the same as was originally approved back in August, rather than the 9,900 square feet that Sibony’s representatives had discussed previously.
Yet, more changes seem to be on the horizon for this project as despite the compromise, the two parties have yet to see eye to eye.
“You can’t just say, someday we might build these big buildings, but give us more space now and just trust us,” said Commissioner Lauren Taylor.