OCEAN CITY – The effects of a stalled Edgewater Ave. construction project came to the forefront once again this week, after months of little to no action being taken regarding the complaints of adjacent property owners.
City Engineer Terry McGean originally came before the Mayor and City Council this week with the intention to revoke the building permit extension for 1111 Edgewater Ave., but ultimately altered his request, after last-minute efforts were taken by the property owner to correct the problem.
The condominium project, along the bayfront of Edgewater Ave. at 11th Street, was stalled last year, due in large part to a stagnant real estate market. Developer Bob Warfield was given a one-year extension for the building permit in November of last year, with the conditions that the lot is cleaned up in the interim and the issues of runoff into neighboring properties are addressed.
While the property was ultimately cleaned up, with the rebar painted, fencing put up and shrubbery planted, the runoff issue has reportedly remained a problem for the last year.
McGean reported this week that several letters had been sent to Warfield regarding the runoff, with no response.
“We never got acknowledgment of the request from the developer,” said McGean.
One letter sent to Warfield, dated November 2007, requested that, “the lot be graded and a berm installed so that the lot would not pitch toward the north and drain on to the neighbors’ property.”
Condominium owners at neighboring 1201 Edgewater Ave. voiced several complaints over the last year regarding the runoff issue, claiming substantial damage to their property as a result of the neglect.
“I felt I had no choice but to take action against the developer and revoke the building permit,” said McGean to the Mayor and City Council this week.
Despite receiving no response to the written requests sent to the developer, McGean reported that he was able to contact Warfield via phone late last week, at which point Warfield denied ever receiving any notification, promising to address the issue immediately.
McGean reported Monday night that the work had been completed, with a temporary retaining wall in place to control runoff into the neighboring property. As a result, McGean withdrew his request to revoke the permit.
While the issue has been dealt with for the short term, neighboring property owners remained upset Monday night.
“We just don’t know how long it’s going to sit the way it is,” said Dr. James Kramer, noting that with no date set for the completion of the project, a temporary wall will likely not be sufficient to handle the run-off.
Kramer added, “We would just like Mr. Warfield to do the right thing, to do the neighborly thing,” requesting that the property be graded properly and a permanent retaining wall be installed.
McGean pointed out that grading is typically not done until the end of the project, at which point a permanent retaining wall is put in place, along the entire length of the property.
“We feel, my department feels, that the measures have been taken,” he said.
“But we’re still in that limbo land of when is the project going to get done. To the best that I know, water runs downhill, it will find its way around this structure,” said Kramer.
The council acknowledged that while the building permit extension will be up on Nov. 21, the council could grant another extension.
“I think that Dr. Kramer is talking about the frustration the entire condo association is having because there is no light at the end of the tunnel,” said Council member Mary Knight.
“I agree with you, this has been going on for a year. I was there a year ago when it was raining and I saw the drainage problem,” said Council member Margaret Pillas.
“I think it has been going on long enough,” agreed Council member Lloyd Martin.
The council suggested that the permit should not be renewed in November without the addition of a permanent retaining wall.
“Give me a week or so to investigate it,” said Warfield. “I don’t know the answer yet. It makes sense to me. I have to do it anyway.”
The council voted 6-1, with Pillas in opposition, to have Warfield return to the first Monday meeting in September to report on the status of the permanent wall.
Neighboring residents remained unsatisfied, however with several more voices being heard regarding the issue at the end of Monday night’s meeting.
“I am glad something has come about, but it’s very unfortunate that it has taken so long, at quite the hardship to six families,” said George Mengason. “We have been treated very badly as tax payers. It’s really unfortunate that Mr. Warfield could ignore five or six letters from your department heads.”
Mayor Rick Meehan defended the city, saying, “If this council is guilty of anything, it’s that they go out of their way to help everybody … As far as any indication that somebody is getting preferential treatment, I can assure you that doesn’t happen.”