OC Planners Approve New Downtown Water Operation

OCEAN CITY – The Planning and Zoning Commission meeting approved a new parasail and wave-runner site downtown Ocean City this week.

Graham Bostic of Bishopville, Md. requested a permit to run a water-related parasail and wave-runner recreational activity operation for a period of three years at the site of 700 S. Philadelphia Avenue near the Inlet. Bostic has owned and operated the Sea Rocket for 10 years and is retired from the Coast Guard.

“I have been around this kind of business for a long time and I understand how they work,” Bostic said.a

According to Ocean City Zoning Administrator Blaine Smith, Bostic has run the Sea Rocket operation successfully from the opposite side of the pier at this location. The Mayor and City Council had approved this operation upon the conditions of installing a pervious parking lot and handicap accessible access to the walkway and out to the pier and landscape improvements to enhance their property.

The Mayor and City Council has also allowed the parking lot to be used commercially outside of operating hours, which has provided a service to lower downtown by providing additional parking as well as recreational activities.

According to Bostic, the Sea Rocket is operated off the outside of the existing pier in this location, and the proposed parasail and wave-runners would be located on the inside of the same pier.

Along the extension of the pier there are two pilings and Bostic plans to chain floating docks to the piling to serve as the platform to operate the jet skis. He had not confirmed on how exactly he would have his customers reach the floating dock but he has two ideas in mind.

“You can walk right out to it, which is easy to do in knee deep water, and like some of the other operators in the area do,” Bostic said, “or you can approach it to build a gangway that would extend off the existing pier on hinges and lower onto the floating jet ski dock.”

Commission member Chris Shanahan said, “Because of his experience, I wouldn’t question how he got his people in the water safely. At this point, he isn’t exactly sure how he is going to do it but because of his 21 years of experience in the business I think that speaks a lot.”

The town allows water sport operations to obtain jet skis in increments of six. Bostic plans on starting with six jet skis and maybe in the future expand to 12.

“On an adjacent property, another operator has 24…I have no intention or in my wildest dreams of doing anything like that, that is a big number,” Bostic said. “Six makes sense because there is a guide for every five.”

Commission member Peck Miller was concerned over the area of operation. He pointed out that the water outside of the pier is known for its rough current.

Bostic assured the commission that the watercrafts would be operated inside of the pier in the channel where the water is much calmer.

“I like the idea of you guys assisting them into the water and then you take them out to their guide,” Miller said.

The commission questioned if the amount of parking available would suffice to the number of jet skis. Smith explained that Bostic currently has enough parking for six jet skis but he would need to add more parking if he expanded to 12 skis.

Smith added that the operation plans on cleaning up the parking lot and creating more parking spaces. It is in the owner’s benefit to add more parking for public and commercial use outside of business hours because it would provide more parking for downtown Ocean City.

Ocean City Development Corporation (OCDC) Executive Director Glenn Irwin presented that the OCDC design committee had discussed the project and it supports the additional water sports as a conditional use in the district.

“Water sports is a destination for a lot of people and from 2000 to 2009 this space site has been sitting vacant,” Irwin said. “It is a really nice attribute to have something there.”

Irwin added that the limited number of jet skis could be a good thing because the committee was concerned with the number of wave runners being in the area of water especially with first-time users.

Commission member Lauren Taylor was concerned about the permit if it would be assigned to the individual or to the business. She preferred the permit be assigned to Bostic because of his experience. He is more then capable of managing this type of business. If the permit were to be assigned to the business, it would allow it to be transferable and she wasn’t comfortable with it being transferred to someone without Bostic’s experience.

Miller made a motion to approve the permit under certain conditions. The permit will approve up to 12 jet skis with appropriate amount of parking, the operator will have to enhance the condition of the lot, he will need consensus from the engineering department on how he is going to have customers enter the water and the permit is to assigned to the individual and not to be transferred between businesses.

The council voted unanimously to approve the permit with a 6-0 vote.