Bayside Regs Need More Work, Council Learns

OCEAN CITY – The City Council was faced with further discussion on special bayside development this week, extending an issue that has been a work in progress for three years.

Jesse Houston, director of Planning and Development, came before the council at Tuesday’s work session to ask that the Planning Commission have further discussion and consideration of a few points in the bayside development regulations. Houston joked that after two public hearings and six work sessions there are still items to consider.

The Planning Commission began considering regulations in 2004 for bayside building, holding a public hearing and following with a second public hearing in 2006. Both hearings shared the goal of increasing the amount of land not covered by buildings, enabling a greater degree of design flexibility, increasing set-backs, limiting shadows, encouraging mixed-use development and requiring a design review.

The discussion on regulations continued last Monday when the Planning Commission and Mayor and Council met to discuss further regulation issues. The regulations discussed included setbacks, parking, having optional regulations apply only to new construction and the site plan approval process. In reference to the site plan approval process, the council decided to change the regulations so that a three-dimensional model of structures be presented to the planning commission as a part of the final site approval process. This rose out of concern that the projects seen on paper were not matching the finished projects.

This week Houston suggested that the planning commission consider three additional items. These items were shadows, density and reduction of off-street parking for mixed-use projects.

Houston would like to see further discussion on shadows and what an acceptable roof pitch should be.

The other item under consideration is density. Houston said he “wants the planning commission to discuss how much of a density change to make.” Houston explained that there is currently a 25-percent reduction in density and he wants a discussion as to whether that number is sufficient.

Houston would also like to see consideration over numbers involving the reduction of off-street parking for mixed-use projects. According to Houston, the regulations currently say that off-street parking required for commercial uses in a mixed-use project shall be reduced by 30 percent. Houston wants the planning commission to discuss exactly what commercial use means, how much commercial use is necessary and possibly what the minimum number for that should be.