Ocean City Council News In Brief

OCEAN CITY – A variety of issues were discussed and approved at a work session of the Mayor and City Council this week. The following is a brief recap of items that surfaced during Tuesday’s meeting.

Zoning Fee Changes OK’d

A resolution calling for zoning fee changes was passed this week, a change that will aim to simplify the process for calculating preliminary and final fees for permit applications.

Zoning fees were approved earlier this year, with the passing of the FY09 budget, however the Department of Planning and Zoning quickly realized that antiquated formulas were making it more difficult than necessary to calculate fees.

Currently, zoning fees are divided into preliminary and final fees, which are calculated through a fairly complex formula.

Preliminary fees are used to ensure that staff time for at least a portion of the administration of an application is paid for, particularly if a building permit is never issued. The preliminary fee is calculated, through the current formula, as a portion of the final fee. The final fee is the actual total, which the applicant pays when a building permit is pulled.

To simplify the process, the resolution sets the preliminary fee at 50 percent of the final or total fee.

The resolution also implements a fee for signs less than 10 square feet. Currently, signs less than 10 square feet require a permit, but are exempt from fees.

The council voted unanimously to approve the resolution.

New Bulkhead Standards

The council approved a second resolution on Tuesday, which calls for changes to bulkhead design and construction within the town.

City Solicitor Guy Ayres presented the resolution to the council, explaining that it was a formality to adopt the changes, as required by the code.

The resolution follows recommendations from the Board of Port Wardens and City Engineer Terry McGean to adopt new bulkhead standards for “vinyl sheet pile and mechanical earth anchoring systems to supplement previously approved standards for timber bulkheads.”

New Skid Loader Eyed Over Costly Repairs

The City Council unanimously approved the replacement of a skid loader for recycling this week, following the recommendation from Purchasing Director Joe Sobczak to replace the machine, rather than repair it.

Sobczak explained that the current skid loader endured catastrophic failure recently when one of its lift arms developed a crack across its vertical axis. The cost to repair totaled over $11,000, more than the current value of the machine. Sobczak suggested replacing the skid loader, recommending the town do a sealed bid for a new machine. Funding is to come from $29,968 that has been realized in the vehicle trust fund this fiscal year.

Ethics Review Sought

City Solicitor Guy Ayres was charged with reviewing and potentially updating areas of the ethics section of the code this week.

Council President Joe Mitrecic addressed the issue, following recent suggestions that the ethics section of the codebook needs review. Ayres will review the current section of the codebook, making recommendations to update where necessary.

The council unanimously approved the recommendation.

New Golf Equipment Purchased

The City Council unanimously approved the purchase of four new pieces of golf course equipment this week.

According to Sobczak, the four units can be purchased under the State of Maryland contract, or under the Fairfax County, Virginia contract, whichever one provides the larger discount.

Two of the pieces of equipment, the fairway mower and the tow behind mower, are currently out of commission and are awaiting replacements. Superintendent Joe Perry requested the units be purchased as soon as possible, to prepare for the fall golf season. 

According to Sobczak, the total purchase cost is $74,304. With a budget allocation of $81,560, a net savings of $7,256 could be realized.

Boardwalk Cleaner Approved

The council approved, at the request of Superintendent of Public Works Bruce Gibbs, the sole source purchase of a power sweeper and scrubber, which will be used to power clean the Boardwalk.

The purchase of the two pieces of equipment was budgeted for FY09 at $49,082, however a discount from Tennant, a Minneapolis-based company, results in a discounted purchase price of $45,594, a savings of $3,487. Gibbs noted that the town has purchased two other scrubbers from Tennant in the past few years for the Boardwalk.

“It has proven to do a great job and helps us in cleaning the boardwalk and train lane much faster,” he said of the scrubbers.