Hotel Project Granted Extra Hours For Wetlands Work

OCEAN CITY – The Hampton Inn and Suites construction project received approval this week to work with heavy machinery in extended hours throughout the day as long as they respect the property’s neighbors.

The project on 44th Street requested an extension in the time allowed to work with excavating equipment from the current restriction of 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. to the hours of 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., while working on returning the wetlands mitigation lines back to the 1972 mark.

“We are going into the wetlands with an excavator and we are extending it and bringing it back to the 1972 line which was part of the agreement in building the project,” Sens General Contractors’ Dave Rainy said.

According to the Environment Protection Agency, the U.S. government moved to restrict development of wetlands by passing the Federal Water Pollution Control Act of 1972, which later became the Clean Water Act. Section 404 of the Clean Water Act regulates the placement of dredge and fills materials in the “Waters of the United States,” which has been interpreted to include a broad range of wetlands.

Rainy explained the project’s wetland mitigation work is being conflicted by the tide, which has to be low in order to excavate, and the restriction of hours.

“We have been working the best we can with the tide as well as these restrictions but it is taking us a lot longer than we anticipated doing,” he said.

Rainy added that crews also are running the risk of damage or a pollutant discharge into the wetlands while working during hurricane season.

“We haven’t had that as of yet,” he said. “We went through the hurricane last week and we didn’t have any discharge whatsoever into the wetlands.”

He said if the Mayor and City Council were to approve the extension of hours it would be easier to get the work done and out of the way before another storm approaches.

Councilman Doug Cymek expressed his concern over the machinery causing a disruption to the project’s neighbors.

Councilman Joe Hall set the motion to approve the extension of excavation hours but did not want to limit the project’s work to week days only.

“I want them to get the work done as soon as possible so their finished and out of there and the wetlands are protected,” he said. “Respect your neighbors but get the job done.”

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