Commission OKs New Bank Plans; New Convenience Store Design Tweaked

OCEAN CITY – The Planning and Zoning Commission approved a number of requests, including the site plan for a new bank in the mid-town area and a restaurant expansion.

The commission reviewed a site plan for a proposed two-story Bank of Ocean City, located at the northeast corner of 59th Street and Coastal Highway.

Zoning Administrator Blaine Smith explained that two parcels will be joined into one.

“This property has the Bank of Ocean City and they have also acquired the north adjacent property which used to be the Tubby’s restaurant, so it is being incorporated into the property,” Smith said.

Hugh Cropper, legal counsel representing the Bank of Ocean City, said the current location has become somewhat antiquated and the desire is to upgrade it.

“Of course, Tubby’s was very antiquated, so that has been demolished, to incorporate that property,” Cropper said.

With little to no concern, the commission voted to approve the site plan.
“I look forward to the new addition,” Commission Chair Pam Buckley said.

Next, the commission reviewed a site plan to expand OC Steamers restaurant with a bay front beach bar as part of the 45th Street Village project.

The 45th Street Village is in the process of being revamped and OC Steamers, located on the northern tip of the shopping center, has not yet opened but asked to add a gazebo to its site on an empty piece of land outside of the restaurant.

“I like the fact that we are seeing something here that looks nice and it looks like something that somebody on vacation would like to go visit,” Buckley said of the project as the commission voted to approve the site plan.

Following the site plan reviews, the commission discussed the renewal of temporary special event parking lot for specific events this summer. The parking lot is located on the west side of Philadelphia Avenue between 25th and 26th streets.

The dates the parking lot would operate is May 30 through June 7, plus Fourth of July week and weekends in July. The parking lot began being used for special events in the first year of the Air Show.

“I think any extra parking down there is a win-win,” Buckley said.

Smith explained that this year the applicant, Ocean Harbor Holdings, is coordinating with the Public Works Department to use the site as a staging site, but the department has agreed to move equipment to the rear of the property when the lot is used for parking.

“As long as they keep it clean, organized, and manned when they’re open I have no problem with it,” Commission member Peck Miller said.

Commission member Lauran Taylor pointed out the town has people who have property, who are paying taxes, and have conformed their properties to the standards required for parking, and this site will be competing with them on the busiest days of the year without having to comply to temporary parking lot standards.

Legal counsel representing the applicant, Joseph Moore, brought forth letters from City Engineer Terry McGean and Public Works Director Hall Adkins in support.

“The tradeoff is they’re using it as staging for the town which would otherwise have to be in the side streets of the town,” he said.

The commission voted to approve the request for one year only, based on the fact the city is going to continue to utilize it as staging in the fall and it would not have to be brought into compliance as a temporary parking at this point. Anything beyond the staging in this next year will require the property to comply with the standards of temporary parking.

The commission added an item to the agenda regarding a proposed   a project on 52nd Street that was brought forward a couple of weeks ago.

The applicant, Cato INC, is proposing to transform Andersons Exxon Service Station and Towing into a Goose Creek convenience store with a Subway restaurant attached. Anderson’s service and towing center will be demolished and the new building will be built directly behind it on the back side of the property. They have also proposed to add additional gas pumps to the property.

At that time a public hearing was held and after many concerns were voiced from the residents of 52nd Street, the commission concluded future deliberation would be held following a response from the State Highway Administration (SHA) on a re-configuration of the property’s exit and entrances to improve vehicular traffic, as well as having the site plan re-designed according to the commission’s recommendations.

This week Smith said a response from the SHA has been provided and the applicant is going to re-design the property due to concerns.

“I think when it comes back addressing your concerns, the neighborhood’s concerns, and the SHA concerns I think the site plan will be revised and upgraded,” he said.

The new design will move the gas pumps away from Coastal Highway and turn them to face the opposite direction so that they run east to west. The change will create a bypass lane within the property to form better traffic circulation.

“I have been advised that because they are going to this extent they are going to replace the current gas tanks and they will be more environmental,” Smith said.