Council Moves Forward Planned Code Changes

OCEAN CITY – A couple of favorable recommendations made by the Planning and Zoning Commission came before the Mayor and City Council this week to amend code sections and were quickly approved.

Planning and Community Development Director Matt Margotta and Zoning Administrator Blaine Smith proposed to reinsert language in the DMX zone to allow low impact commercial use to be reviewed through the conditional use process in order to protect the surrounding neighborhoods.

In late January, the Planning Commission conducted a public hearing to consider amending a section of the town code to include miniature golf as a conditional use in the DMX zoning district. There were no public comments.

At that time, testimony was given by Smith on the history of the DMX zoning district and the intent of the Downtown Design Overlay Zone District to be exclusionary to protect the residential nature of the district. Smith pointed out, adding the miniature golf as a conditional use would safeguard the existing residential portions of the mixed-use district while allowing a new commercial use that would be of low impact to the neighborhood.

The commission voted 6-0 to forward a favorable recommendation to the Mayor and City Council.

This week Councilwoman Margaret Pillas asked why miniature golf was not included in the DMX zoning district as a conditional use in the first place.

Smith explained when the district was formed the addition of allowing miniature golf facilities as a conditional use was simply left out, and it has never been brought to the city’s attention because there has never been any requests for such a use in that area. However, there have been a few miniature golf courses in the downtown area in the past but none were within the DMX district.

A recent request was made by Old Pro Golf who has an interest to build a nautical themed mini golf on property in the DMX zone. The property is owned by the Trimper family and is currently being used for parking but began as a water park, Water Flume, and then transitioned into the Tank Battle amusement.

In late November, the Planning Commission held a public hearing to consider amending the code related to parking regulations determining how to calculate required parking spaces in mixed uses.

The commission reviewed the current ordinance and listened to testimony given by Smith and attorney Joseph E. Moore, concerning a challenge from an out-of-state attorney as to the final tabulation of parking spaces for mixed uses. The commission voted 6-0 to recommend amending the code for clarification but not change the intent or the enforcement of the code’s interpretation.

The recommended language states, “Where a fractional space results after tabulating the total number of required spaces, the parking spaces required shall be construed to be the next highest whole number.

“In the case of mixed uses, or uses with different parking requirements occupying the same building or premises, or in the case of joint use of a building or premises by more than one use having the same parking requirements, the parking spaces required shall equal the sum of the requirements of the various uses computed separately, except that in such mixed uses the computation shall not be subject to the base minimum requirement specified in section…above for individual uses; and that the parking requirements for permitted accessory retail and services uses in a hotel, motor or motor lodge containing 50 or more dwelling units may be reduced by the following percentages: retail sales, offices and service establishments, 30 percent; restaurants and dining rooms, 50 percent; ballrooms, banquet halls, meeting rooms and auditoriums, 70 percent.”

The council voted 5-0, with Mary Knight and Joe Mitrecic absent, to move both recommendations forward to ordinances.

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