Council Debates Lot Maintenance Issues

OCEAN CITY –Lot maintenance enforcement within the Town of Ocean City will be changing hands and seeing a fee increase, after a unanimous vote by the City Council this week to make the changes.

Lot maintenance within the town is currently regulated by the Clerk’s Office and has been for the past 35 years. Complaints over overgrown lots, cracks in curbs, excessive weeds and so forth are directed to the Clerk’s Office, who in turn send out notices and fines to the properties in question.

City Clerk Carol Jacobs reported this week that complaints have diminished over the past few years, with the majority of complaints coming from the Building Office personnel, who notice the violations while doing field inspections for other violations.

“It just seems logical that if they’re already out there they can pick up the lot maintenance complaints,” said Jacobs.

Jacobs explained that the change would reduce duplicate inspections as well as eliminate the need for an additional vehicle on the road from the Clerk’s Office.

According to Jacobs, the Building Office supports the changes. Of the roughly 130 complaints received last year over lot maintenance, Jacobs noted that the majority were complaints heard from Building Office personnel.

The council voted unanimously to make the change.

Jacobs also requested a change in the price for fines for a lot maintenance violation.

Currently, the cost for a first cut of an overgrown lot is set at $100. For subsequent cuttings, the rate is increased by $25, climbing from $100 to $125 to $150 and so on.

“Most of the time, a property owner wont even attempt to cut the grass until they get that notice,” said Jacobs.

Jacobs recommended increasing the base fee for a first time cut to $150, in an effort to encourage more people to keep their lots well maintained and cut. Subsequent cuts will remain at an additional $25.

Property owners who fail to pay the fee for the lot cutting receive a lean against their property, said Jacobs.

The council voted unanimously to increase the fees.