SNOW HILL — An attempt by one Worcester County Commissioner to delay a controversial zoning change in Ocean Pines was quickly shot down, leading to frustration and the expectation that the matter will move to the courtroom.
“I was frustrated … they really did shut me down,” said Commissioner Judy Boggs.
Representing Ocean Pines, Boggs was a staunch member of the commission minority that opposed changing a parcel of land along Route 589 from agricultural to commercial. Though Boggs was on the losing side of the 4-3 vote, she again tried to at least slow down the re-zoning this week, asking for a delay while the commission reviewed the Findings of Fact for the case, which she believed were erroneous.
“I would like to see it delayed until we can all talk about that,” she said.
Boggs pointed out that the findings, which came from the Planning Commission, contain several “facts” which she believes are false. One example she listed is that the findings assert that Route 90 serves as the boundary line separating neighborhoods, a claim that Boggs flat out disagreed with.
“The north and south sides of the community are connected by Route 90,” she said.
Boggs said that she had spotted other items that she believed were inconsistent and asked the re-zoning be delayed. The majority of the commission, however, had found no problems with the findings and voted 4-3 to approve an earlier motion made by Commissioner Madison Bunting to accept the facts as they were.
According to Commissioner Virgil Shockley, who joined Boggs in opposition of the re-zoning, the case will most likely now head to a judge, where he confirmed he expected it to end up from the beginning.
“You’ve got a huge difference of opinion in what the law actually means,” he said.
To trigger a re-zoning, an applicant has to prove that either the commissioners made a mistake with the original zoning or that the neighborhood changed significantly enough to justify a new zoning designation. During the case for the Burbage property, the majority of commissioners agreed that a significant change in the neighborhood did indeed take place. The minority, however, remained highly skeptical since the neighborhood has remained within the boundaries of the county’s comprehensive plan.
Whatever the disagreement, at this point, Shockley explained that “the commissioners are done with it” and the re-zoning will go through unless challenged in court.