OCEAN CITY – Despite concerns over the watersport operation jiving with the construction of a proposed restaurant, the Sea Rocket’s request for a new five-year contract at its current downtown site was approved this week.
Applicant Graham Bostic of the Sea Rocket requested the Mayor and City Council’s approval of a conditional use to permit water-related parasail and wave-runner recreational activity for a period of five years at the current location of 700 S. Philadelphia Ave.
“This request is basically a renewal of the Sea Rocket and watersport activity at 700 S. Philadelphia Avenue,” Zoning Administrator Blaine Smith said. “They have had a great experience at the location for several years but the conditional use will expire and they have requested a renewal for five years. It has been five-year intervals that you have approved in the past.”
A public hearing was held for the request before the Planning and Zoning Commission on April 1. The commission voted to favorably recommend to the Mayor and City Council to approve the request based on certain stipulations.
The commission recommended approving the conditional use for one parasail boat and a maximum of 12 wave-runner vessels subject to minimum off-street parking requirements, which is the current condition.
However, should construction begin on a proposed restaurant, referred to as Buccaneer’s Caye at Shipwreck Cove, in the same location, it will be required that the operator of the watersport discontinue its operation until meeting with the Planning and Zoning Commission to determine that the two uses can co-exist on the premise without any adverse impacts to vehicular and pedestrian movement for patrons and public and for adequate parking during construction. The restaurant had received site plan approval in October 2013 but has not applied for a building permit at this time.
According to Smith, Bostic appeared before the Board of Zoning Appeals requesting a shared facility agreement for parking should the restaurant be built, and it was granted.
“They felt it could be a shared facility because the hours of operation differ and it would be a nice amenity to that area continuously,” Smith said. “But when we went to the Planning Commission for the public hearing the concern is when or should the restaurant begin construction during the summer months the uses can exist at the same time … if the restaurant is built in the winter months when the boat operation is not in operation it will not be an issue.”
Councilman Joe Mitrecic made a motion to accept the Planning and Zoning Commission’s Finding of Facts and grant the five-year renewal with a caveat for the watersport operator to return to the commission if the construction of the restaurant is to start in the summer. The council voted unanimously to approve.
Smith said the Planning and Zoning Department is currently in discussions with the principles of Buccaneer’s Caye, who have slated for the project to begin this fall.
“This is about the 20th time they have said that, so we won’t hold our breath,” Mayor Rick Meehan said. “It is a great addition of a watersport activity downtown, so I support the extension. Even if there is construction I am glad to hear they [Sea Rocket] have an alternative so they can continue to prosper.”
The project is proposed as a 5,104-square-foot, one-story building enclosed restaurant with indoor seating attached to a private boardwalk that runs parallel with the bay with a covered tiki bar. The building will be placed on the back-side of the triangular property with the front of the restaurant facing S. Philadelphia Ave. The parking lot would be in front of the building meeting the street front.