OC Council News In Brief

OCEAN CITY – Things at City Hall this week kind of sounded like the lyrics of a Stevie Wonder song, in that the runners can keep on running, the turbines can start their spinning and St. Patty can keep on parading.

The Race Will Go On….

One of the cuts in City Manager Dennis Dare’s first round of budget revisions in late October saw the town of Ocean City cut the Seaside 10 race, which the town had sponsored for the past 15 years, trimming approximately $26,000 off the town’s budget. Special Events Coordinator John Sullivan, however, announced that a private entity would like to take over the event and put it on as originally scheduled on Oct. 31, 2009.

Chris Klebe, president of OC TriRunning Sports (formerly called Extreme Dream Events), was unanimously granted permission to take over the event by the City Council at Tuesday night’s meeting at City Hall.

The event, which runners racing from the Inlet up to mid town Ocean City and back through the winding 10-mile course to the Inlet finish line, also holds a simultaneous 5K run on the Boardwalk. The events attract about 800 runners each year.

Klebe said that his organization is excited to be asked to take over the race from the town and hoped to get “a lot of good mileage from the event, no pun intended.”

Wind Turbines Cleared

The Ocean City Council is down with going green, deciding in a 6-1 vote (with Joe Hall in opposition) that it had analyzed and tweaked the ordinance allowing wind turbines in Ocean City as a conditional and accessory usage to the point that members felt comfortable with and made it official on Tuesday night.

After a long and sometimes tedious process, even though it was the usual and necessary one to pass an issue like this, residents got the green light to install either freestanding or roof mounted wind turbines on their Ocean City properties as long as they meet the setback requirements laid out in the ordinance. Those in the residential and mobile home districts have the most provisions placed, admittedly to cater to the impact on neighboring properties.

“We took out the variance procedure and changed it from special exception to conditional use in the R-1 and mobile home districts, said City Planner Jesse Houston.

Councilman Jim Hall, who was vocal for the need to change the ordinance after the first reading, was on board with its passage upon second reading.

“This is a new baby, I think we can work with these provisions, and if there is an adjustment that we need to make, we can,” he said.

As Hall predicted two weeks ago, the first sign of one of these turbines, which more than likely will be mostly roof mounted turbines based on the Ocean City lot layout, might still spark a bit of public debate, but Councilman Lloyd Martin tried to give some clarity to anyone that might be upset about any changes to their neighboring properties.

“People forget that when we were kids, we didn’t have cable television, so everyone had antennas on our roofs,” said Martin. “Everyone had something on their roof and I don’t think wind turbines are any more obtrusive than an antenna on a roof.”

Annual Parade Approved

The City Council approved the 29th Annual St. Patrick’s Day parade in Ocean City, which will once again be put on by the Delmarva Irish-American Club and will be held on Saturday, March 14 at noon, with the Irish festival to kick off the annual event at 11 am in the 45th Street Village in Ocean City.

Mayor Rick Meehan called the parade, which is the second largest in the state, “the best in Maryland” and will feature awards for best commercial, non-commercial, and overall floats, as well as awards for best marching band, adult and youth marching units, amongst others.

The parade will once again start at 61st street and proceed toward the judging booths on 45th Street.

The cost to the town of Ocean City to put on the event is $14,873, according to Special Events Director John Sullivan.

Stimulus Might Boost Fire Station

Three weeks ago, the City Council approved in a 5-2 vote (with Jim Hall and Joe Hall in opposition) to move forward with the design process of Station 4 fire station, or as it is commonly known, the Montego Bay firehouse.

The hopes then were to have the designs in place to make the project “shovel ready” in case a stimulus package that President Barack Obama was working on included aid to such public safety projects.

Fire Chief Chris Larmore told the council this week that he had received word that part of the stimulus package that was passed this week has a focus on expansion or improvement of firehouses that are non-federally occupied, in the sum of potentially $250 million.

Larmore said the design process has begun to renovate the existing building to provide more livable space for career and volunteer firefighters so they are in closer proximity to servicing the uptown area of Ocean City in case of emergencies.

“The timing of your decision may really work in our benefit,” said Larmore.