City Votes To Hold On To Robin Drive Property

OCEAN CITY – After hearing the opinions of numerous residents of Robin Drive at a public hearing Tuesday, the Mayor and Council decided to not sell a piece of municipal property on the road.

Wayne Hartman came before the Mayor and Council in June to request to purchase the municipal property that is adjacent to 333 Robin Drive. Hartman purchased the apartments across the street a few years ago and renovated the run-down building. He explained that he hoped to use the property as additional parking for the apartments or to build and provide boat slips for the residents of his building.

At that time, Hartman had explained his intentions to the council and promised to repair the bulkhead along that property. The bulkhead along the entirety of the property is in need of repair and would cost the city a large sum of money to do so. It was also pointed out that the property would then become a revenue producing property for the city.

The council decided at that meeting to hold a public hearing to allow the neighbors of the area a chance to be heard.

Several voices were heard at Monday night’s meeting with Hartman as the sole supporter of the purchase.

Nadine Needle spoke in opposition to the purchase, explaining that she lived adjacent to the property in question.

“This would adversely affect most of the residents who live along Robin Drive,” Needle said.

Needle pointed out that the land was one of the few green areas left in the neighborhood.

“Unfortunately there’s very little green space to be found,” she said. “We came to the ocean to breathe fresh air.”

Needle added that the area has also become somewhat of an unofficial dog park.

“It is a popular walking and exercise site,” she said, explaining that the land is a popular spot for people to walk and play with their dogs.

Needle also mentioned the picnic table, healthy trees, one tree in particular that was planted in dedication, the recycling center, and all of the people who would no longer have access to the area.

With reference to the boat slips, Needle explained that if Hartman was given permission to build boat slips for his property, there would be no way to prevent other property owners from following in his steps.

In addressing the parking lot proposal, Needle pointed out that it would only be adding more traffic to an already dangerous road.

Needle presented a signed petition to the council opposing the purchase along with a majority vote of opposition from those attending the public hearing.

Despite the overwhelming opposition, Hartman spoke, explaining his intentions to the Mayor and Council as well as to the neighbors.

Hartman explained that the parking lot was no longer a factor and that he only wanted to install the boat slips, giving his property owners as well as himself an opportunity to leave boats there overnight.

Due to the fact that state law only allows two boat slips per 50 feet of property and because the property is only a 25-foot by 90-foot strip, Hartman would only be installing two boat slips.

“I have no problem leaving it green,” Hartman said explaining that the boat slips would not be affecting the green area and that the public would still have access to that area.

As for the trees and picnic table, Hartman explained that there were no trees in the area that he intended to purchase and that his tenants had placed the picnic table there and that it would remain where it was.

Hartman maintained that he would be making minimal changes that would not threaten the life of the wetlands or the neighbors of the area. He would only be adding boat slips and repairing the damaged bulkhead.

“I can’t see where it’d be a danger to the community, it’d be a further enhancement to that property,” he said.

Despite his arguments, Hartman received little support from the Mayor and Council.

“Either rent a slip or buy a property on the water,” Council President Joseph Mitrecic said, explaining that boat access should be thought about before one buys a property, not after.

Councilman Jim Hall, a resident of the area, said, “I know we want the park to stay.”

Councilwoman Nancy Howard agreed with Mitrecic’s advice to rent a slip or buy property on the water.

“I’m just leery about this,” said Howard.

After hearing several other residents voice opposition, the motion was made to deny the request to purchase the property. The council voted unanimously to deny the request with Councilman Jay Hancock absent.

“It was a good effort, I think it was fair and legitimate,” Mayor Rick Meehan said to Hartman.