Friday, November 30 -Developer Gets Permit Extension On OC Property

OCEAN CITY – The building permit extension for 1111 Edgewater Ave. was officially secured this week  when a resolution over how to fix up the temporarily abandoned property was met.

At a work session of the Mayor and Council this week, property owner and developer Bob Warfield and attorney Joseph Harrison came before the City Council to present two possible solutions to the issue.

Warfield appeared before the council earlier this month to request the permit extension, noting the poor real estate market as a valid reason to further postpone the building of the proposed condominium project. The council granted the extension, under the conditions that the lot bordering the bay and the lot across the street is cleaned up and made more aesthetically appealing.

Architect for the project, David Quillin, came before the Mayor and Council last week with proposals for cleaning up the two lots, but the council decided to further postpone the issue after failing to come to an agreement.

The lot bordering the bay currently has several concrete blocks with rebar sticking out of the tops that the council deemed unappealing for neighbors to look at for the next 12 months of the building permit extension. The lot across the street maintains piles of stones and dirt. The council suggested to Quillin last week that the blocks and rebar be painted and the lot be fenced in.

The council was presented with two renderings this week. The first involved the repainting of the concrete blocks and the rebar. The second rendering calls for repainting, as well as a six-foot fence with see-through capabilities. Harrison explained that the other lot had already been dealt with and had been graded and leveled.

“We’re trying to reach a consensus of what people want,” Harrison said.

Councilman Jim Hall made a motion to accept the second rendering as part of the extension approval.

“I think it is a major, major improvement and I think this is what that council was asking for,” said Hall.

“I think the fence is a good addition, but I could live with it really without the fence,” said Council member Jay Hancock.

Hancock maintained his fear that granting this extension would open the door for other builders to follow en suite. As a result, Hancock suggested that impact fees be required in exchange for a permit extension.

“I think that something should come from extending these projects,” he said.

Impact fees for this project would cost Warfield about $60,000. Warfield explained that paying impact fees would only force him to take money away from the project.

“The more you take out of me the less I can give,” he said, noting that the $60,000 would make it more difficult for him to maintain any of the green aspects of the building.

The project was originally applauded for its effort to be green. The green elements of the building have been lost, however, as prices become tighter and the real estate market continues to drop.

“I’m between a rock and a hard place,” Warfield said, maintaining that he is still striving for a green building. “Whatever I can leave in that’s positive, I’m going to do that.”

Councilwoman Margaret Pillas pointed out that the green features would make the building stand out over other buildings around town.

“If nothing is selling, then green’s not selling either,” Warfield said. “I can promise you this, I’m going to try to keep what I can, but its an economic life.”

Councilwoman Mary Knight explained although there are concerns over granting building permit extensions, the council did agree to grant this one if a proper proposal for cleaning up the site was made.

“We cannot determine your business plan…we just can’t tell a builder make your building green,” she said “All of this was done in good faith and I think you’ve met all your requirements.”

The council voted six in favor, with Hancock abstaining, to accept the second rendering as part of the permit extension agreement.