New OC Water Operation Clears Planning Hurdle

OCEAN CITY – Dead Freddies is in the clear to add the operation of paddle boats, stand up paddleboards and kayaks to the restaurant.

On Tuesday evening, the Planning and Zoning Commission held a public hearing to consider granting a Conditional Use permit to OC Land Holdings, LLC, who owns all lots within the block between 63rd and 64th streets on the bayside, to allow the operation of 25 non-motorized devices for water-related recreational activity. The use would operate out back of Dead Freddies Island Grill where a dock is currently located.

The water activity will consist of a combination of six paddle boats, 12 stand up paddleboards (SUPs) and seven kayaks.

The request was in compliance with city regulations, such as restroom facilities, storage and required parking, as Dead Freddies has a parking lot of their own, as well as leases 50 parking spaces from the city located north of 64th Street near where the Public Works Campus is located.

OC Land Holdings’ Steve Carullo testified trained employees would be hired to operate and monitor the water activity and patrons would be required to wear life vests.

The paddle boats are being considered as an accessory to the restaurant that will be available to entertain families, for example while waiting to be seated, while the SUP and kayak is a water sport activity that will be available from early in the morning until sunset.

Dead Freddies’ existing dock is located to the northwest of the property between the restaurant and 64th Street where the non-motorized devices will launch from. West of the dock there is a waterway leading into a wide lagoon that then leads into a channel that empties into the bay.

According to Carullo, the paddle boats will have access to the water closer to the restaurant. However, the SUPs and kayaks will have more leniencies in accessing the lagoon but will be restricted from the channel leading into the bay to avoid motorized water activity.

“There is nothing detrimental about it. It is unique for us in fitting in with what we have been doing. We have looked at doing this for many years. We think it is a good thing for the town and us,” said Carullo, recognizing the configuration of the water behind Dead Freddies is appropriate for this type of activity.

Attorney Joe Moore, representing OC Land Holdings, acknowledged the Town of Ocean City has plans in the works to construct a public boat ramp off of 64th Street near where the channel empties into the bay. However, it is known the city has acquired permits and funding to build the boat ramp but the timeline was unknown.

“I live in Little Salisbury where there is a boat ramp, and even though it says 6 mph it is not adhered to … and you’re going to have your paddle boarders and kayakers in fairly close proximity,” commission member Chris Shanahan said. “I am fully supportive. It is great for your restaurant and having people enjoy the water but this may be something that we would want to revisit once the boat ramp is installed.”

Shanahan recognized currently there is minimal boat activity coming through the lagoon to dock at Dead Freddies and the boat traffic to the restaurant will most likely increase once the boat ramp is constructed and the channel is dredged.

“I am hoping we won’t have to deal with that issue [boat speed] but if we do then we won’t do it,” Carullo said. “We are not going to risk anyone’s safety. This is an accessory and meant to be a good thing for the restaurant and not for a primary business.”

Commission member Peck Miller recused himself from the vote due to conducting business with OC Land Holdings but did comment monitoring patrons will be the key.

“You never let anyone go out into the water if you are not aware where they are 100 percent of the time,” said Miller, who owned a watersports business in Ocean City for many years.

The public hearing was closed with no public testimony given.

The commission deliberated the conditions of a floating dock to enhance accessibility to the devices and a gas powered chase boat in case of having to retrieve patrons, such as a jet ski.

The commission was torn on requiring a certain number of employees to operate the water activity feeling that it is a business decision for OC Land Holdings to make but wanted to ensure safety. The commission acknowledged rentals, instruction, guiding and monitoring would be too much for two employees to handle but in case of an emergency other employees can be pulled from the restaurant.

Shanahan made a motion to approve the Conditional Use for 30 months to allow for three summer seasons based on the conditions of a minimum of two employees to operate and monitor the water activity, have a chase boat on hand and the permit will be reviewed following the first summer season of the boat ramp being in operation along with OC Land Holdings’ water activity.

The commission voted 5-0 to approve with Miller recused and member Palmer Gillis absent.


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