Town Planners Approve Two Project…Indoor Golf Site Ok’d

OCEAN CITY –The Planning and Zoning Commission noted changes to two previously approved conditional uses this week, including a watersport activity behind the 45th Street Village and an uptown golf course and arcade expansion.

A public hearing was held on January 8 regarding the expansion of the 145th Street golf course and arcade. At that time, no opposition was voiced over the expansion of the arcade or the proposed addition of an 18-hole mini-golf course. As a result, the planning commission voted unanimously to foward a favorable recommendation of the project to the Mayor and Council.

Applicant Nolan Graves and attorney Brian Shockley returned to the Planning Commission this week for a second public hearing.

Shockley explained that shortly after receiving the favorable recommendation from the Planning Commission in early January, Graves made the decision to enclose the proposed mini-golf expansion and have an 18-hole indoor golf course.

“I believe in most respects, the findings will be similar,” said Zoning Administrator Blaine Smith, explaining that very little had changed in the plans except for the conversion of the golf course expansion from outdoors to indoors.

“The use is the same, give or take a few square feet in the arcade…the golf course is still 18 holes, its just inside instead of outside now,” explained Shockley.

The multi-level indoor use would also include some retail space and a party room.

Smith did note concerns with the parking however. 58 parking spaces are included in the plan, which is 15 spaces short of the required parking. The Board of Zoning Appeals (BZA) recently denied the request for a 15-space waiver after concluding that the parking would be insufficient for the project. Smith explained that BZA concerns arose after hearing testimony that the indoor golf course on 68th Street receives more vehicle traffic than any of the other Old Pro Golf Courses.

After reviewing possibilities that would allow for the reduced parking, the commission voted to once again give a favorable recommendation of the project.

“I’m definitely in favor of the project,” said commission member Chris Shanahan. “Since there’s nobody here in opposition from the neighborhood, I’m all in favor.”

“I have a hard time over-riding the BZA’s decision,” said commission member Joel Brous, opposing the favorable recommendation.

The commission voted six in favor, with Brous in opposition to send a favorable recommendation to the Mayor and Council. The applicant must return to the Planning Commission for final site plan approval.

The commission acknowledged another change to a previously approved conditional use this week, noting that the application for the watersport activity, to be operated from behind the 45th Street Village, had been withdrawn.

A public hearing was held on February 20 regarding the conditional use of a watersport activity behind the 45th Street Village. Applicants Tyler Barnes and John Sager presented their plans to operate an interim use of the property that would include the rental of 10 waverunners and operation of one, six-person parasail boat.

Several members of the community voiced opposition to the proposal, noting safety as the main concern. Local business owners maintained that the waters were already overcrowded in that area.

Opposition was also heard in regards to the proposed gas use on the property. Barnes and Sager proposed that twenty-eight-gallon gas carts be rolled through the store and out to the docks where they would remain all day. At the end of the day the gas caddies would be returned to West Ocean City.

The Planning Commission approved the project with several conditions, but later learned the applicants had withdrawn their application after receiving a denial from the Board of Port Wardens over several aspects of the proposed dock.