Thoughts From The Publisher’s Desk

Thoughts From The Publisher’s Desk

It’s been many years since the small Fenwick Island community has been embroiled in such a controversy as the current one surrounding the Sands Motel’s future.

At issue here is a proposed change in commercial zoning to allow for one motel room per 600 square feet as opposed to the current 1,000 square feet. In the Sands Motel’s case, it would mean a redevelopment of the property would allow for a 65-room facility as opposed to the current 38 rooms. All agree the current motel needs to be destroyed and replaced, but how to get there is where the opposing viewpoints part ways.

This is not a simple matter, but the most pressing concern among those opposed to an ordinance change is that it will lead to more and larger hotels on the Route 1 strip that runs through Fenwick, increase traffic and change the overall character of the little town.

The fact is that’s not the case and the town will not change altogether because of this redevelopment or this ordinance change. Future reconstruction project or commercial property conversions will be subject to town approvals before proceeding.

Although it was obviously created to support the change, the Sands Motel informational website makes a valuable point when it points out, “fair, updated zoning will eventually allow the Sands to consider adding just 26 rooms in the remodel, for a total of 188 hotel rooms in Fenwick Island — that’s an increase of only 16% in four decades.”

The town council, which had previously shown support for the ordinance change through a 5-2 vote, is set to hear from the public at what is expected to be a spirited public hearing next Friday. No official decision is expected at the hearing, but it should be evident whether the council is swayed from its previous position.

It will probably be a while before anything becomes officials, but the Town of Ocean City’s effort to begin exploring a ban on Styrofoam is worthwhile.

Hundreds of cities across the country already have bans in place, and most of them copied what the more progressive jurisdictions ahead of them did. Almost all had some sort of phased-in approach when it came to alternative products for commercial entities. The idea was to fairly enact the change and work with the restaurants on finding other products that will suit their needs.

The amount of waste generated in Ocean City is tremendous and on typical summer days the glut of Styrofoam piled up in and around the trash cans on the beach and Boardwalk is astonishing. Many forward-thinking restaurants already use alternative products to Styrofoam and most likely they are paying more to do so. However, it’s clear the majority still uses the cheaper Styrofoam.

The city’s Green Team committee would be wise to work with the trade organizations in town as well as the large food distribution providers and formulate a multi-year plan to get rid of Styrofoam altogether. Being out front and open will show the commercial businesses the intent and open up lines of communication regarding concerns and worries. At the top of that list will most surely be the financial concerns.

Snow Hill Mayor Charlie Dorman and his fellow private and public partners have a daunting task ahead in pumping some life into the town. The reality here is Snow Hill has a ceiling as far as future growth and commerce, based on geography, population and traveling inconvenience. The good news, however, is there is potential to at least improve the current situation, which is not pretty. Dorman is to be credited for acknowledging the issues and at least taking a direct approach to steering the town in a more positive direction.

“I always say to people who say negative things about Snow Hill is you can’t see the forest through the trees. It’s like, c’mon, we have a beautiful river here and we are going to promote that river so that people are going to want to make [Snow Hill] a destination,” Dorman said. “There will be a brew pub or a distillery on the corner in the Raley building. There will be more restaurants in town, there will be people walking the streets, the buildings will be filled, and folks will say, I went to Snow Hill and had a great time. I see that coming. We aren’t that big, but we can draw people here, and if they come for a day, maybe they’ll want to come and live here.”

This is about the time of year when some crazy promotional gift idea emails start filling my inbox. This week’s example came with the subject line of “Bacon Scented Underwear.” That got my attention immediately as well as the images of the male and female underwear with the writing, “Stop and Smell the [insert photo of bacon],” written across them.

I actually didn’t laugh until I read the following warnings: “J&D’s Bacon Scented Underwear is not recommended for people in the following professions: mail carriers, zookeepers, veterinarians, dog catchers and walkers, and circus performers (especially lion tamers). If you have a large dog with razor sharp teeth, please do not fall asleep in J&D’s Bacon Scented Underwear. If you are hiking in the woods where bears are known to roam, please do not wear Bacon Scented Underwear without also carrying a firearm.”