Thoughts From The Publisher’s Desk

It appears the days of Trimper’s Rides anchoring the
south-end of the Boardwalk are numbered. It may not be next year or the year
after, but the family whose name is synonymous with amusements along the
Boardwalk is looking to get out. The reason, according to the family, is rising
property assessments, from $29 million in 2004 to $77 million in 2007. The
family has seen its tax payments balloon by more than $500,000 in the same time

Trimper’s Vice President Doug Trimper, great grandson of
the amusement park’s founder, summed up the family’s viewpoint in a letter to
Gov. Martin O’Malley. In the correspondence, he wrote, “Ground level,
single-story businesses cannot compete with government imposed airspace
assessments of stacked condos on property. … Trimper’s Rides, as it exists
today, will not survive the decade … we are not facing public disapproval of
our product, just government overtaxing.”

News of the pending demise of the amusement park has
attracted national attention, leading some local lawmakers to think of ways to
assist and save the landmark business. One proposal was the granting of some
sort of historic tax break, or shelter, to the business. That could work, but
the concern for lawmakers will be keeping the playing field level. If they do
it for one business, they need to be prepared to do it for others that fit the
criteria. It’s only fair, and it will be interesting to see if the state and
local officials would okay the loss in revenue.

Staying with the Trimper’s situation, it’s easy to get
lost in the financial aspect of the matter, but lost in all the uncertainty is
the sentimentality surrounding it. For instance, some long-time company
employees were notified recently of how grave the situation has become. The
employees were told through a memo of sorts distributed with their paychecks
that 2007 may be the amusement park’s last year of operation in its current
form. That had to be a difficult pill to swallow and served as a confirmation
this was not some idle threat being levied by the company seeking government

Entrepreneurs looking to open up any sort of adult
business, from an escort agency and adult motel to a sexual encounter center
and adult theater, could soon have little options in Ocean City.

A public hearing on a proposed zoning code amendment to
permit and regulate sexually oriented businesses was held this week. Attendance
was minimal with only one resident attending and speaking, raising questions
about how many people actually care in Ocean City. The proposed amendment
essentially limits the areas where these types of businesses can operate to
about 1 percent of the property in Ocean City. The Mayor and Council will soon
tackle the amendment, which is expected to pass without much fanfare.

All of this came about after the opening of an adult
business in a north Ocean City shopping center. Although the shop is already
open, the amendment as written will impact it tremendously. The amendment reads
any business currently operating as of the date of the ordinance will be a
nonconforming use, meaning it “will be permitted to continue for a period not
to exceed one year, unless sooner terminated for any reason or voluntarily
discontinued for a period of thirty days or more.” That’s tough language and
basically means the store will have one year to find another place to open in
Ocean City or be forced to close its doors. That’s ripe for court challenge,
but the city presumably did its homework and believes there’s precedent to
support the regulation.

addition, the shop would have to abide by the entire amendment, including a
provision banning window displays that include sexually explicit materials,
products, displays or messages. It’s unknown whether that includes the
lingerie-clad mannequins currently set up in the shop’s windows. Someone will
have to make that interpretation. 

About The Author: Steven Green

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The writer has been with The Dispatch in various capacities since 1995, including serving as editor and publisher since 2004. His previous titles were managing editor, staff writer, sports editor, sales account manager and copy editor. Growing up in Salisbury before moving to Berlin, Green graduated from Worcester Preparatory School in 1993 and graduated from Loyola University Baltimore in 1997 with degrees in Communications (journalism concentration) and Political Science.