Surfrider Foundation Honors Citizen For Petition Effort

Ocean City resident Matt Landon is pictured with Ocean City Surfrider Foundation representative Shelly Dawson, left, and Mid-Atlantic Regional Manager John Weber. Ocean City resident Matt Landon is pictured with Ocean City Surfrider Foundation representative Shelly Dawson, left, and Mid-Atlantic Regional Manager John Weber.

OCEAN CITY — The local chapter of the Surfrider Foundation last week honored an Ocean City man with a Certificate of Appreciation for his efforts to derail a preliminary decision by the Mayor and Council this fall to consider allowing vehicles on the beach in certain areas during the offseason.
In September, the Ocean City Mayor and Council discussed the possibility of a one-year pilot program allowing vehicles on the beach in certain areas from Nov. 1 to March 31 to accommodate surf fishing and other activities in the hopes of stimulating the offseason. The town’s elected officials agreed to move forward with the pilot program contingent upon a Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR) review and approval.
However, even the concept of allowing vehicles on the beaches in the resort caused a public outcry, eventually forcing the town’s elected officials to abandon the idea completely. The public uproar was driven largely by a petition drive engineered by Ocean City resident Matt Landon.
Landon created the petition on Change.org titled “Ocean City, Md. Council: Repeal the approval to drive on the beach from Nov. 1 to March 31.”
In a matter of days, the petition had garnered over 900 signatures of those opposed to the proposed program.
“Locals wait all summer long for clean, empty, tranquil beaches,” the petition read. “Now, with this drive-on approval by the Ocean City Mayor and Council, we can only envision walking over the dune crossing and seeking multiple trucks in the place where you would normally surf, practice yoga, run, exercise, let your dog run free or just come to relax. Local residents come out of hiding to enjoy the peacefulness of the Ocean City Beaches from October to April.”
The proposed pilot program would have allowed vehicles on the beaches between 27th Street and 94th Street in Ocean City from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. from November through March. Unlimited permits would have cost $75 each, but the permits would have to be tied to surf fishing.
In the petition, Landon appealed to the elected officials to reverse their perceived support for the pilot program to allow vehicles on the beach from November through March.
“Too many people use the mid-town beaches during the offseason,” the petition read. “Please take a step back and reconsider this. Myself and others strongly believe this is a poor decision made on the Council’s behalf and one that shows a lack of respect for the ocean and a lack of understanding of the area as a community.”
At their next meeting after the release of the petition and the associated public outcry, the Mayor and Council voted 6-1 to withdraw the application to the DNR to review the pilot program and create a plan to market it. Last week, the Ocean City Surfrider Foundation recognized Landon for his efforts with a Certificate of Appreciation.

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