Downtown Mini-Golf Endorsed

OCEAN CITY – The Planning and Zoning Commission found the request to build a miniature golf course in the Downtown Mixed Use Zoning District to be consistent with the surrounding amusements in the area and will pass on a favorable recommendation to the Mayor and City Council.

On Wednesday, the Planning and Zoning Commission held a public hearing to consider amending a section of the town code to include miniature golf as a use permitted conditional in the Downtown Mixed Use (DMX) Zoning District.

Zoning Administrator Blaine Smith explained that the DMX district and the Lower Downtown Overlay district were conceived in 2002.

According to the code, the purpose of the DMX district is to create a mixed-use, pedestrian-oriented area that encourages development and redevelopment characteristic of the oldest part of Ocean City. The area allows for commercial and personal services that meet the daily needs of residents and visitors as well as sufficient public open space that encourages pedestrian circulation throughout the entire district. Special design and development criteria with high-density residential development are appropriate for this district.

When the district was formed, the addition of allowing miniature golf facilities as a conditional use was left out, and it has never been brought to the city’s attention because there has been no requests for miniature golf in that area since then. However, there has been a few miniature golf courses in the downtown area in the past but none were within the DMX district.

The property is owned by the Trimper family. The property currently serves as a parking lot but began as a water park, Water Flume, and then transitioned into the Tank Battle amusement.

According to Smith, Old Pro Golf recently expressed an interest to have a miniature golf course downtown with a nautical theme on the property. The company is already in negotiations with the Trimper family but Ocean City’s code does not allow for a miniature golf course in the DMX district.

“It has always been tied to the amusement park,” said attorney Regan Smith representing the Trimpers. “They [Trimper family] have always been trying to work towards some utilization of the property in some manner that would add another amenity to downtown … we thought this would be consistent with the neighboring properties.”

Blaine Smith added the only type of conditional uses that are permitted in the DMX district are aquariums, night clubs, public and private parking garages, theaters and opera houses, utility, private and public other than essential services, small wind turbines and rental of small displacement vehicles.

Once the public hearing was closed with no public comments offered, Commission member Joel Brous asserted miniature golf courses should have been included in the DMX district as a conditional use in the first place.

“Seems like this is a great opportunity to add it in,” Commission member Peck Miller said.

Commission member Lauren Taylor added that the use of a miniature golf course will be user-friendly and will not add any extra traffic to the downtown.

“We are a tourist community that does continue to promote tourism and family-oriented activity,” Chair Pam Buckley said.

The commission voted unanimously to pass on a favorable recommendation to the Mayor and Council to amend the DMX zoning code to include miniature golf as a condition use.