Sleep Inn Project Concerns Discussed

OCEAN CITY – Plans for
the Avelon Hotel property were discussed in a variety of forums this week, as
issues regarding the proposed plans were presented to both the Mayor and
Council and the Planning and Zoning Commission.

The project calls for
the redevelopment of the property located on the south side of 1st Street
between Baltimore and Philadelphia avenues. The proposal calls for
a Sleep Inn Hotel and Suites to replace the former Avelon Hotel.

Although the building is
located downtown, it will be four stories in height. An amendment to the
downtown height ordinance, approved by the Mayor and Council, allows mixed-use
buildings to build to four stories to attract commercial business to the

The incentive also
allows for dormers to be added to the top of the building, a feature that some
of the commission members were not pleased with when the project was first
presented in January.

Concern regarding
traffic flow was also addressed in January, with one concerned citizen pointing
out the potential for heavy traffic delays on Baltimore Ave. as a result of the
proposed drop-off zone.

The drop-off zone will
allow for cars to pull into the property from Baltimore Ave. and pick-up and drop-off
for check-in/check-out. The plans call for room for four cars to stack in the
area. Resident Paul Morris pointed out in January that the situation would
inevitably cause back-ups onto Baltimore
Ave, particularly during Saturday check-in when,
according to Morris, 84 cars could be trying to access the hotel.

The commission
disagreed, however, giving approval to the project. The commission did include
two conditions regarding the drop-off zone, calling for a review of the
situation from State Highway Administration and the city engineer and adding
that should the situation become problematic, the drop-off zone would be
modified or closed.

The issue was addressed
once again this week, when Morris voiced his concerns for traffic flow to the
Mayor and Council. As a result, the council agreed to review the plans at a
work session.

“[City Engineer] Terry
[McGean] and I have had conversations weeks ago where he has approved the
access points on Baltimore Ave.,”
said attorney Joe Moore this week to the Planning and Zoning Commission. Moore maintained that
traffic would not be an issue for the project.

“If they try to widen Baltimore Avenue,
our drop-off point is totally within our property,” added Moore.

“The volume is not going
to be that great,” said Commission member Lauren Taylor.

“If anytime it does have
a problem, we can do something about it,” said Commission Chair Pamela Buckley.

The issue will be
reviewed further before the Mayor and Council at the next work session.

Another aspect of the
project was presented the Planning and Zoning Commission this week, the dormers.

Previously, the plans
called for dormers on the fourth floor of the building. Moore explained that the Ocean City
Development Committee (OCDC) felt the dormers gave the building the appearance
of having a fifth floor, rather than a four-story building with dormers.

As a result, new plans
were presented Wednesday night, with the removal of the balcony from the

“The removal of the
balcony creates the appearance of a dormer,” said Moore.

“I think we definitely
prefer the revised dormer approach,” said OCDC Executive Director Glenn Irwin.

“I think that it’s
definitely a much better look,” said Taylor.