Ocean City News In Brief

OCEAN CITY — In the brief this week, two issues slipped through the Police Commission level and found their way onto the City Council’s agenda and were quickly tabled, the council mulled its options on what to do with a few more taxi medallions and the town wants a downtown property owner to start a cleanup effort.

2 Issues Tabled By Council For Further Discussion

Councilman Jim Hall wasn’t sure how two items ended up on the council’s Tuesday work session agenda, and when they came up, he motioned to send them back to the police commission for further discussion.

The first ordinance that was tabled involved a measure that would allow the police department to enter a property or business when the establishment is closed and prosecute potential trespassers on the property.

“The property owner would have to volunteer or allow the police department to go onto their property when they are closed, because under Maryland law, you can only prosecute trespassing if your property is posted as such,” said City Solicitor Guy Ayres. “This would merely help businesses in the late night to early morning hours when no one is there and allow the police department to take action.”

Apparently, the proposed idea or ordinance was unanimously opposed by the Ocean City Hotel-Motel-Restaurant Association (OCHMRA), which thought that the ordinance was too intrusive on the rights of the business owners in the resort.

“I think that there might have been a miscommunication about all that this ordinance would allow the police department to do, but I just think that at this time the HMRA thought it wasn’t the best idea,” Councilwoman Mary Knight.

Councilman Joe Hall, whose family owns Hall’s Restaurant in midtown Ocean City, said that he would like for the ordinance to come back to the table as soon as possible for at least an “up or down vote.”

“I can see the benefit in this,” said Hall. “We have problems with trespassing in the late nights on my property, and I don’t see how it’s a bad idea to allow police to have the power to catch someone who is having a party or doing bad things on your property when you aren’t there.”

The other measure that was tabled would have required hotels to make guests present a photo identification card or face up to a $1,000 fine.

As expected, the OCHMRA was also adamantly opposed to the idea, citing the intrusive nature to business practices and noted that many businesses already have that requirement in place.

Both issues are expected to go back to the police commission level for further discussion.

More Returned Taxi Medallions?

A handful of taxi medallions are expected to be seized by the town in upcoming days as extensions for getting cars on the road as required by the town’s new ordinance have not been met, said Assistant to the City Manager Kathy Mathias.

As a result, Councilman Jim Hall pitched the idea to the council on Tuesday, perhaps in the name of added revenue, to quickly turn over and re-sell the medallions to the local market prior to the summer season getting underway.

“I know we said that we were going to sit on them for awhile, but I don’t see the good in that right now when we are trying to find every dollar that we can,” said Hall. “I think if we sell them when the demand is there, the beauty of this whole thing is that we get $500 per year in renewal fees so why hold on to it? It’s the gift that keeps on giving.”

Councilman Lloyd Martin, on the other hand, said that the council should hold off on putting the medallions back on the street, as part of a verbal agreement with the taxi industry.

“We made a promise to them and I think we need to stick to it,” said Martin. “We need to find a level that works with the medallion system and if some of these are getting sent back, maybe it’s a case of the market setting itself. I think we should wait.”

Still, Hall feels that the town shouldn’t pass up any chance for additional revenue, but also noted that it’s a prime opportunity for someone to get into the cab business.

“Let’s consider at the very least, getting them out on the streets and help get someone who wants to get into business, into business,” said Hall.

OC Wants Cement Plant Lot Cleaned Up

Councilman Jim Hall petitioned that the town get involved with the condition of a downtown property that he says has become an eyesore and just so happens to be one of the first properties that people see when they come over the Route 50 Bridge.

“I really want someone to look into contacting the Croppers and ask them to clean up the cement plant on 1st Street,” said Hall. “It’s a mess down there.  The garage door is halfway up, there’s stuff everywhere and the weeds are getting out of control.”

Town officials assured Hall that the town is working with the property owners to improve the aesthetics of the site.