OC Design Guidelines Tweaked

OCEAN CITY – The Mayor and City Council voted Tuesday to exclude single-family homes from proposed design guidelines that are scheduled to be made final next week.

This week Councilman Joe Hall expressed concern over single-family homes being included in design guidelines. The guidelines were approved on first reading a few weeks ago in a 4-3 vote, with Council members Margaret Pillas, Brent Ashley and Doug Cymek in opposition.

“I voted for it in first reading and to not hold this up to vote for second reading I need a change,” Joe Hall said.

Joe Hall requested that single-family homes be excluded from the ordinance, due to lack of clarity within the guidelines. “I will vote for the ordinance for multi-family and commercial,” he said.

Planning and Community Development Director Jesse Houston explained that the Planning and Zoning Commission was also concerned over single-family homes and at first was not going to have them included within the design guidelines but wanted to protect single-family neighborhoods from non-conformance.

“We have talked about design guidelines for years,” Houston said. “Every time a ugly building gets built everybody says ‘how did that happen it doesn’t fit’ so the planning commission decided instead of establishing detailed guidelines with colors and shapes to try to work with the developer … instead of it being a hammer, lets work together and let’s try to come up with a better building.”

The design guidelines were passed on as a recommendation from the Planning and Zoning Commission, which held a few discussions on the topic as well as a public hearing where there were no public comments.

The ordinance states that the design guidelines do not constitute absolute rules and regulations. They are meant to convey to the developer and designer the town’s desire for quality appearance and design elements that should be addressed during the site plan review process. They apply to all of the corporate limits of the town except areas subject to the Downtown Design Overlay Zone and the Upper Downtown Design Overlay Zone.

The design guidelines outline such elements as neighborhood sensitivity, location of building, building envelope, openings, finishes and materials, roof detail and color.

Additions to buildings will also be considered into the design guidelines and should be designed to not dramatically change appearance, consider scale and mass and placed on side or rear of existing building, windows and materials.

Joe Hall set a motion to exclude single-family homes from the proposed design guidelines and asked the Planning and Zoning Commission to address single-family neighborhoods by coming up with more defined design guidelines and the council unanimously agreed.

“We need a better step forward so somebody who is building a home has a better idea so they don’t come in blind,” he said.