Ocean City Names New Planning, Zoning Director

Ocean City Names New Planning, Zoning Director
Ocean City

OCEAN CITY – The Town of Ocean City announced Tuesday the position of Planning and Zoning Director has been filled one year after it became vacant.

After conducting a national search, which resulted in several qualified candidates, the Town of Ocean City issued a press release announcing William (Bill) Neville had been hired to the position of Planning and Zoning Director.

“Neville brings over 30 years of community planning experience, including recent experience as Planning Director for the nearby coastal town of Chincoteague, Va.,” the release read. “As Planning and Zoning Director, Neville will oversee the planning and zoning department.  The planning division, along with the Planning and Zoning Commission, is responsible for preparing and maintaining the town’s Comprehensive Plan, to which Neville brings local expertise and the ability to integrate design and regulatory solutions with comprehensive plan policies. In addition, Neville brings decades of experience in land use planning and design, implementation of land development codes and ordinances, as well as community participation in the planning process.”

“I am very pleased to welcome Bill to the Planning and Zoning Director position,” said Mayor Rick Meehan, who is also currently serving as interim city manager. “A person of Bill’s caliber, including his knowledge, experience and leadership, will be a great asset to our community and the future of Ocean City.”

Neville’s professional experience includes work in the public and private sectors. Before joining the Town of Chincoteague in 2010, Neville was the Director of Land Planning Services for Daft McCune Walker/DMW and Senior Land Entitlement Manager for Centex Homes. With bachelor’s degrees in Environmental Studies and Landscape Architecture from Syracuse University, Neville’s career began in 1984 in land planning, land development and a balanced background of residential and mixed use community planning in rapidly growing jurisdictions and small towns.

“My family and I have enjoyed living in and around Ocean City for the last 10 years and we are pleased to feel like a part of the community,” Neville said. “I look forward to working closely with the Mayor and City Council, the staff, the various boards and commissions, and of course the residents and property owners, to coordinate Ocean City’s Strategic and Comprehensive Plan for a bright future in our first class resort town.”

The Planning and Zoning Director position opened about a year ago when former Planning and Zoning Director Matt Margotta resigned for “personal reasons” after filling the position for only a year and half.

Margotta was hired for the position after Planning and Community Development Director Jesse Houston retired in September 2012 after 30 years of service with the town.

Houston joined Ocean City in 1982 and had played a significant role in the Department of Planning in Zoning. While Houston’s formal responsibilities included leading the daily planning and zoning efforts of the town, he was also instrumental in the preparation of several comprehensive plans, comprising of the development of Eagles Landing Golf Course, the formation of the Ocean City Development Corporation and the development of Ocean City’s Critical Area Program.

Houston had represented the town in many capacities, such as on the Maryland Coastal Bays Board of Directors and Implementation Committee, the Maryland Climate Change Commission and as a charter member of the American Planning Association.

Margotta joined the town in January 2013 also after a national search was conducted resulting in dozens of qualified candidates. He came to Ocean City from Fort Pierce, Fla., where he held the position of Director of Planning since 2006 working under former City Manager David Recor, who resigned last month after just three years with Ocean City. Margotta was previously Senior Planner for the Town of Bluffton and Hilton Head, S.C.

Just last week the Mayor and City Council held a public discussion over the Planning and Zoning Commission’s recent recommendation to establish an R-1A Single-Family Residential District to ease neighborhood concerns over unruly short-term rentals. As proposed a neighborhood would be able to apply to be re-zoned as R-1A district that limits rentals to 12 months.

During the discussion, Zoning Administrator Blaine Smith pointed out the update of the comprehensive plan is due, which would be the new Planning and Zoning Director’s first task once hired. The consideration for an R-1A district will be included in the process to update the Comprehensive Plan that city officials have agreed to complete as soon as possible.