Council Approves Mediator To Settle Lighting Dispute

OCEAN CITY – There is light at the end of the tunnel for the neighboring properties of a bayfront condominium complex who have had an ongoing battle for many years over the structure’s lighting.

Ever since the Rivendell was constructed on 81st Street, there has been issues concerning the building’s height, setback, shadows and lighting in the parking garage and balconies glaring onto its neighbor the Bay Princess.

The lighting issue even became a model for Ocean City to amend its lighting ordinance in 2011 so that the problem would not occur again. The code prior to the amendment included the language that exterior lighting is required to be “focused and controlled” and was changed to include foot candle measurement so that the law can be enforced.

The ordinance now states that exterior lighting can be no more than .2 foot candle of lighting on a property line and existing non-conforming luminaires installed prior to the adoption of the regulation that do not meet the requirements may continue to be used unless it is deemed by the town to pose a safety hazard, it is replaced by another luminaire, abandoned, or relocated, and if there is a change of use of the property.

Bay Princess resident Andy Anders has headed the effort to have Rivendell’s lighting become controlled for a number of years and returned to the Mayor and City Council this week to reveal there has been some new developments in the case. Rivendell now has a new Board of Directors, which has been working in partnership with the Bay Princess association without conflict.

“Obviously we know now what happened, people can make mistakes, and I understand that but the building was put up with no compliance of the code and this is a horrific example of what can happen,” Anders said. “I am asking you [council] to step up and share in an oversight of potential solutions.”

Anders asked the council to appoint a city mediator to work with Rivendell and the Bay Princess and to have a lighting contractor come on site to offer a low-cost solution in controlling Rivendell’s lighting.

“I am very sympathetic to this issue,” Councilwoman Margaret Pillas said. “I have been there and it is like a floating boat and I would not like to live next door, and I really hope the solution comes.”

Pillas was happy to hear that Rivendell’s board is receptive to a lighting solution but would not have the solution come out of the taxpayer’s pocket.

“I would like to extend your request as long as it doesn’t create reliability for the taxpayer,” Pillas said. “However, to have someone come up there and find a design that will work both for Rivendell and you, I think is a great solution.”

Councilman Doug Cymek made a motion to have City Engineer Terry McGean and city staff work with a lighting contractor and the two boards to come up with an answer.

Councilman Joe Hall did not agree that it was going to take city staff and a lighting contractor to develop an answer and that the underlying request was for funding.

“The answer is going to come between the Board of Directors of the Rivendell and if they decide to do it or not do it,” he said. “They know what to do, it is just they don’t want to fund it.”

Council President Jim Hall did not agree with his colleague.

“This has been a screw up since day one,” he said. “All they are asking for now is a little mediation between the two of them … he asked if our engineer would meet with those guys and see if there is a remedy and come back to us. That is all I heard, we didn’t agree to anything else.”

The council voted 5-2 with Joe Hall and Brent Ashley opposed to approve the motion.