OCEAN CITY – The Mayor and City Council’s work session on Tuesday afternoon included the endorsement of a procedure to implement the Bay Restoration Fund Exemption Procedure, the approval of several spring infrastructure projects and support for the Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development Funding of a project downtown.
Bay Restoration Fund
Exemption Process OK’d
Finance Administrator Martha Bennett requested approval of procedure to implement the Bay Restoration Fund Exemption Procedure to meet State of Maryland regulations for qualifying residential properties.
The State of Maryland requires each municipality collecting Bay Restoration Funds to have an exemption procedure in place for residential properties based on substantial financial hardship. Currently, Ocean City residents are charged $30 on their wastewater bill to pay the fee.
“The main reason I am here is to let the public know that we have to put this procedure in place to offer this exemption … we have created a form for residents to fill out to submit for this,” Bennett said. “There is no fiscal impact to the city. It reduces the amount the city would omit to the State of Maryland Chesapeake Bay Restoration Fund.”
Property owners can be found exempt if they meet two of the following criteria; receiving energy assistance subsidy, receiving public assistance- supplemental security income (SSI) or food stamps, receiving veterans or social security disability benefits, receiving the Homeowner’s Property Tax Credit for same fiscal year, or meeting certain income criteria.
The council voted 6-0 with Councilman Joe Mitrecic absent to approve the procedure.
Public Works Director Hal Adkins requested to transfer $565,000 of the Wastewater fund balance to pay for four separate infrastructure improvements. The current balance of the Wastewater Fund is about $4 million. The transfer has already received support from Budget Manager Jennie Knapp and Finance Administrator Martha Bennett.
The first infrastructure improvement involves odor control at the BioSolids facility. According to Adkins, upgrades to the current odor control and truck bay are required because it has been found the current system is overloaded when exterior temperatures rise. The original odor control process could not handle the amount of ammonia that is generated in the trucking bay in conjunction with the process area.
Currently, when temperatures rise in the process area, the overloaded system dumps all of the air in the space outside causing numerous complaints from the adjacent property owners and businesses.
The second improvement is to replace the “B” Pump at the Jamestown Road Pumping station. Adkins explained, the current B Pump in the Jamestown Pumping station is the last original pump left in the facility, and has out lived its normal life cycle, beginning to hinder the overall operation of the facility. During the summer months, it is imperative that all three pumps be in good operating order. Pumps A & C were replaced last year.
The next improvement will be to install a sump pump system in the main electrical vault where all the wiring feeds into the main switch at the Wastewater Treatment Plant General Building. Currently, ground water is overtaking the underground vault, exposing high voltage cable to direct water emersion.
The last improvement is important repairs at the 2nd Street Pumping Station before the beginning of summer. Adkins described that currently both the north section Pump and the north section Dimminutor are out of service leaving the south section to carry the entire downtown load. The Dimminutor needs a total replacement due to its current condition.
The council voted 6-0 to transfer the funds to cover the infrastructure improvements to occur this spring.
For Project Granted
A resolution came before the Mayor and City Council to support financing by the Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD).
The DHCD’s Neighborhood BusinessWorks Program requires a local government resolution to finalize an approved loan of $459,500 to support Edward Braude’s Fat Daddy’s project. The resolution will confirm the town’s support for the state loan and serves as a guarantee that the redevelopment project will conform to local zoning codes.
The former Fat Daddy’s Subs Pizza and Wings downtown on the corner of S Baltimore Ave. and Dorchester St. has already been demolished to rebuild a building with the restaurant and a second commercial space on the first floor and dormitory style housing for students that come to Ocean City for summer work on the second floor. The dormitory housing consists of 21 units with 46 beds, two centralized full bathrooms and a full kitchen. The total project cost is $1,592,000.
The resolution states, “the Mayor and City Council of Ocean City are interested in promoting the revitalization of the community by encouraging the development and/or expansion of for profit and nonprofit small businesses.”
Following a brief debate over the validity of the resolution due to where the project lies in conformity with the city’s building codes verses zoning codes, the Mayor and City Council voted 5-1, with Councilwoman Margaret Pillas opposed, to approve the resolution.
“Just to clarify … it had gained approval from Planning and Zoning. The building code is something completely separate, as far as whether or not it meets all of our building standards, but it complies with the zoning standards thus the resolution is accurate,” Mayor Rick Meehan said.