OCEAN CITY – The new Marriott hotel currently in the works south of Route 90 received final site plan approval to allow for 150 rooms after receiving the ultimate okay on parking.
The final site plan approval for the Residence Inn and Suites by Marriott on 61st St. came before the Planning and Zoning Commission last Tuesday following the Board of Zoning Appeals (BZA) approval of a special parking exception.
The applicant, Inns of Ocean City, LLC, is building a Residence Inn and Suites by Marriott on the old OC Health and Racquet Club property located on 61st Street immediately south of where Route 90 enters into Ocean City.
The new hotel has been through the gauntlet in acquiring the required amount of parking spaces by the Marriott in order to include suites as well as to be in compliance with City Code.
For a Residence Inn and Suites, Marriott requires 20 suites to be included within the 150 rooms. According to City Code, if a hotel room is over 500 square feet, such as the suites, then a parking space and a half is required. The site has 153 spaces, and due to City Code, eight additional parking spaces were required.
The Mayor and City Council denied the applicant’s request to close and convey a portion of Seabay Dr. that is a right-hand turn off 61st Street on the west end of the tennis center but shortly comes to a dead end as it abuts Route 90. The plan was to create eight additional spaces on the public street but Trader’s Cove residents, which are the neighbors to the south of the proposed hotel, voiced concerns during the public hearing over existing parking congestion between the community and tennis center.
Next the applicant scheduled to come before the BZA to ask for approval of a hydraulic outdoor parking structure, referred to as a car lift.
Prior to the meeting, the Planning and Zoning Commission voted 4-3 to provide a letter of opinion to the BZA in opposition to allowing car lifts in Ocean City. Additionally, the Mayor and City Council questioned if the request of a car lift meets the test of the code, and if not the Mayor and City Council were also going to submit a letter to BZA opposing the request.
Subsequently, the applicant pulled the request of installing a car lift from BZA’s agenda, and instead returned requesting the special parking exception.
BZA granted a special parking exception to grant a waiver of eight parking spaces necessary for 150 rooms and the required four spaces for public meeting space per Marriot requirements.
At last Tuesday’s meeting, Zoning Administrator Blaine Smith reminded the commission it had previously approved the Residence Inn and Suites by Marriot for 142 rooms with 153 parking spaces.
“The applicant has created four additional parking spaces, so they now have 157 on site. They went to the BZA and received the eight-space waiver, so they are providing 157 spaces for 150 units and the amenities included in the project,” Smith explained. “If you agree with 150 units as amended with the BZA parking waiver, they are asking for the site plan to be updated.”
Commission member Lauren Taylor made a motion to approve the final site plan to allow for 150 units. The commission voted unanimously to approve.
Smith added the commission’s concerns regarding pedestrian movement from the hotel on the bayside across Coastal Highway to the beach have not gone unheard, and several meetings have been held with the Dallas Baker of State Highway Administration and the developer in regards to the installation of pedestrian safety signage among other efforts.