Revised Bayside Development Regs Sent Back To OC Planners

OCEAN CITY – The ordinance outlining the special bayside development regulations will continue its revision process after the City Council agreed to send the ordinance back to the Planning and Zoning Commission for further review.

At Tuesday’s work session, the council voted to send the ordinance back to the Planning and Zoning Commission in hopes that a few changes could be made and agreed upon before the council’s second reading of the ordinance.

The ordinance, also known as “height by right”, has been bouncing back and forth between the council and the Planning and Zoning Commission for months in an effort to perfect the ordinance before it is enacted.

The goal of the bayside development regulations has been to allow for taller buildings in the area if the builders compromised by meeting regulations in other areas such as setbacks, parking, shadows and bulk. The hope is that it will provide an incentive for builders to create more diversified buildings that are not the standard five-story condo building.

The regulations will allow for a property of at least 40,000 square feet to be able to use the regulations to build as high as eight stories.

The council, as well as the Planning and Zoning Commission, have gone back and forth on points in the ordinance such as setbacks, density, parking and zoning. The goal has been to create an ordinance that will appeal to builders and create diversity in the zoned areas.

The council passed the ordinance on first reading, but concluded that there were still some aspects that needed to be tweaked.

Jesse Houston, director of Planning and Development, explained that there were some issues involving setbacks that needed to be addressed. He said he wanted the Planning and Zoning Commission to sign off on the proposed alternatives before the ordinance is presented to the council for second reading.

“We know there’s some flaws and we want to get it right before we pass it,” Councilman Jim Hall said.

Councilmembers agreed that they wanted all potential problem areas of the ordinance to be perfected before it is passed.

The council voted six in favor with one in opposition to send the ordinance back to the Planning and Zoning Commission. Councilwoman Margaret Pillas was in opposition, maintaining that she will not vote for anything having to do with building above five stories.