Homes Planned For Proposed YMCA Land

SNOW HILL – While an initiative to build a YMCA adjoining Ocean Pines is defunct, the deal made to get land donated for that unsuccessful project is still in force, and the landowner is now working on moving forward with a 60-unit residential development on that site.

The Worcester County Commissioners held a public hearing on the expansion of the Ocean Pines Water and Wastewater Service Area to include the Steen Associations project, the addition of the development to the water and sewer plan and the removal of 60 EDUs from the Ocean Pines Association (OPA) and the transfer to the Steen Associates development.

The OPA recently asked the county to transfer 60 of its unused EDUs to Steen for the development of 30 acres of land adjoining the south side of Ocean Pines.

The transferred EDUs come out of sewer capacity assigned to land that will never be built on, such as the property surrounding the Sports Core pool. No capacity will need to be added at the Ocean Pines Wastewater Treatment Plant.

“This is capacity that already exists,” said Ed Tudor, director of Development Review and Permitting.

Project engineer Steve Soule assured the commissioners that the development would only be accessible from King Richard Rd. in Ocean Pines.

“There is no access from Gum Point Rd., let me make it very, very clear,” said Soule.  

Before any building on the site can begin, the developer must show that the access road through Ocean Pines can handle the traffic from the 60-house subdivision, said Mark Cropper, the land use attorney representing Steen Associates.

The Worcester County Planning Commission recently found both requests consistent with the county Comprehensive Plan.

The site plans have been redrawn in recent years to eliminate forest and wetland impacts, Soule pointed out.

The development will also adhere to new state stormwater regulations calling for environmental site design, although the project does not fall under the new law’s jurisdiction.

The only controversial item in the project, as far as the County Commissioners were concerned, was the developer’s plan to use grinder pumps in the sewer collection system rather than the county standard gravity collection system.

“Let’s do it so it all is the same,” said Commissioner Judy Boggs.

Cropper asked the commissioners to wait for engineering studies before making a decision on the sewer system. If the commissioners do not like the study results, they could decide against the grinder pumps.

“You have ultimate say here,” said Cropper.

The commissioners expressed concern over electrical outages that would affect the electric-powered pumps.

“When do you start telling people to stop flushing their toilets when the power goes out?” said Boggs.

“We’re setting ourselves up for a problem,” Tudor said.

County public works, not Cropper or Steen, will get the call when the sewer system has problems, Tudor said.

“Forget the grinder pumps. Mr. Steen said he’d put in gravity fed,” said Cropper, after discussion had gone on for some time.

The Steen Associates project will come before the County Commissioners at least twice more for growth allocation and a residential planned community designation.