Surf Machine Project Clears BZA Hurdle, Aims For Opening Within A Month

Surf Machine Project Clears BZA Hurdle, Aims For Opening Within A Month
Flow rider 6

OCEAN CITY – A Flow Rider surf machine, to be known as OC Big Wave, hopes to be in operation downtown by the 4th of July.

Last Thursday The Lazy Lizard LLC came before the Board of Zoning Appeals (BZA) requesting a special use exception to allow construction and operation of a Flow Rider surfing machine in a Manufacturing (M) District. The BZA was tasked with determination if the use of a Flow Rider is specified within regulations of the M District or is as a similar use that is not detrimental to the neighborhood.

The proposed site is 309 1st Street where the former Cropper’s concrete plant parking lot is located, adjacent to the Lazy Lizard restaurant. The site will include ample parking, a snack shack, smoothie bar, changing rooms, bathrooms and merchandise and ticket sales.

“The property has been abandoned and has sat dormant for some time. There has been a site plan approval extended for a couple time periods for a townhouse and multi-family project that may or may not move forward. The request for the device is for the interim until the property becomes developed otherwise,” Zoning Administrator Blaine Smith said.

Smith furthered a use allowed in the M District is a water-related recreational activity. However, the term is not specified.

“Quite often the type of water-related recreational activity we have on the bay is wave runners, jet skis, and kayaking. In this particular district those types of use are permitted. This district also allows all marine type of activity, such as minor repair to boats, sale or rental of boats, and docks and piers. This particular property fronts the Sinepuxent Bay but the channel is very close to the face of the bulkhead and there are no mourning facilities on this property,” Smith explained.

“To me this is a no brainer,” attorney Hugh Cropper said, representing Lazy Lizard LLC. “This is a permitted use in the M District, which this is the only M District in the whole town, as water-related recreational activity. If this is not a water-related recreational activity, I can’t think of what you would call it.”

Cropper pointed out a Flow Rider wouldn’t have any more of an adverse effect on the surrounding neighborhood as any other of the many uses allowed under the M District that also include storage, commercial parking lots, hotels, restaurants, and marinas.

“Certainly this would create a lot less noise, vibration and fumes than a concrete plant, marine repair or any other of the listed uses. There is no question that this is a water-related recreational activity, and if it is just outside of that definition, it is certainly a similar use,” Cropper said. “The nice thing is there is already a concrete pad on this site … so the machine can sit on the existing concrete pad and anchor it per the manufacturers specifications … it is probably the best place to put it.”

Cropper concluded the operation would be open from 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. and 16 parking spaces would be provided, which is code compliant.

Ocean City Development Corporation Executive Director Glenn Irwin submitted OCDC does not have any objection to the approval of the surfing machine as a special exemption.

“It will add additional activity to this area of the downtown area,” Irwin stated.

However, OCDC asked for the following stipulations. A general cleanup of the former Cropper concrete site, particularly the mowing of the high grass/weeds found on the north side of this property; removal of the barbed wire from the top of the eight-foot high chain link fence, as the site is no longer being used as a true industrial use; and the reinstallation of the white vinyl fence that was removed during the construction of a new parking lot located on 1st Street just west of the original Melvin’s Steakhouse to shield adjacent houses from the commercial parking lot.

According to Cropper, The Lazy Lizard LLC agreed to OCDC’s recommended conditions.

“It is a new animal that has not been tossed into the zoning code yet but I don’t think it would be a detriment. It would be a great attraction on the bayside,” BZA Chairman Alfred Harrison said.

BZA member Chris Rudolf made a motion to accept the application as a use similar to a water related recreational activity in the M District based on the conditions set forth by OCDC as well as the hours of operation from 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. and 16 parking spaces provided.

The board voted 3-0 to approve the motion with Harrison, Rudolf and Bruce Kennington in favor, and with members Danelle Amos and Marcia Rigsby were absent.

The OC Big Wave aims to open by July 4, said Todd Hays of T & W Redevelopment, who manages the Lazy Lizard Marina, Sea Rocket and Jet Ski operations in that area.

According to Hays, OC Big Wave will be marketed towards the tween ages from 12 to 18.

“We went to Wildwood, N.J., where we saw a Flow Rider in existence … there were huge lines,” Hays said.

With two kids under the age of 21, Hays hopes to fill a void that the Dew Tour event left behind by not returning to Ocean City this year.

“My kids love the Dew Tour sports and lifestyle, so I thought this would be cool to go after. It would be cool to establish something similar to a Dew Tour style event where we can have competitions,” he said. “It is a big parking lot, and the idea is ultimately too set up a bunch of water related type attractions that will appeal to the age under 21.”