OC Council OKs Wind Turbine Law

OCEAN CITY – Small energy turbines can officially start blowing in the wind after council passed their conditional usage through second reading and into town law on Monday.

After months of talking, tweaking, and testimony, which even saw Mayor Rick Meehan veto the first draft of the ordinance, the City Council voted unanimously to allow small wind turbines in Ocean City as a conditional use in all zoning districts, including residential (R-1).

In essence, after all the cautionary deliberation that saw council try to walk the line between embracing a new alternative energy source and keeping all the neighbors happy at the same time, the council was all business on Monday, passing the motion through with little discussion.

The turbines must be 1.1 times the total height of the structure from the property line, meaning if you had a 40-foot turbine, it would have to be placed 44-feet from the property line on all sides, and all usage will be by way of conditional use.

Simply put, all residents and business owners who would like to install a turbine on their property will now have to go before the Board of Zoning Appeals and the Mayor and City Council for final approval and can be considered for special exception in the same manner, if they simply can’t meet the setback requirements and would like to plead their case.

The other ordinance that will be written into Ocean City code after making it through the required second reading on Monday night was the three-story height limit on structures in the 3rd-15th streets area of downtown Ocean City.

The town essentially had to deal with a rift caused by their own mistake after flubbed verbiage in the original ordinance neglected to include Jacqueline Avenue as part of the three-story height limit in the downtown area.

As a result, a developer who had purchased the property at 1404 Jacqueline Avenue from local resident and neighboring property owner Chris Tilghman, planned to build a 50-foot condominium structure, which Tilghman took umbrage with, since he claimed to have sold the property thinking nothing over three stories (or 35 feet) would be built in the spot.

The council advised both the developer and Tilghman to sit down with Zoning Administrator Blaine Smith to work out a compromise, after council made it clear that their intentions, despite the mistake, was to allow nothing more than three stories in that area of downtown.

The council voted 6-1 (with Joe Hall in opposition) to finalize the matter and set in stone the 35-foot height limit from 3rd-15th streets, including Jacqueline Avenue.

As for the rift between Tilghman and the developer, a memo from Smith to the council dated April 16 said a compromise has been made and the new condominium will meet the newly required height limits.