OC Planning Comm. Approves Hotel’s Gazebo Bar Plans

OCEAN CITY — Resort planners last week approved an uptown hotel’s plan to swap out an oceanfront area historically used for dumpsters and trash collection with an attractive amenity for its guests and its neighbors.

On Nov. 1, the Planning and Zoning Commission reviewed a site plan for a parcel along the beachfront just to the north of 118th Street owned by the Carousel Resort Hotel. For years, the Carousel has used the oceanfront parcel connected to the hotel property by a concrete walkway for housing its dumpsters and trash collection, but those uses have been moved and the hotel now desires to develop an attractive beachfront gazebo bar in its place.

Zoning Administrator Blaine Smith explained the parcel in question has been traditionally used for trash collection and storage, but with a nod to the property owners to the north and the Carousel’s own guests, the proposed gazebo bar represented a much better use.

“This is an accessory use for the Carousel Hotel,” he said. “Up until recently, this particular lot was mainly used for some parking and trash collection. They chose to move the trash compactor and dumpsters to the south side of the street adjacent to the building and screen it with the hope they can utilize this property in a much better way. It was underutilized as a trash collection area on the oceanfront.”

Smith said the concept plan called for a quiet gazebo-style bar with a few chairs and other amenities scattered around.

“I don’t think it’s geared up for use by the general public, but rather an amenity for the hotel,” he said. “”They envision it as something similar to what the Princess Royale has except this one is on the opposite side of the street. It would create more green space and a natural segue to the condo to the north.”

Attorney Joe Moore, speaking on behalf of the Carousel and operator Michael James, said the proposed gazebo concept was embraced by the neighboring property owners.

“Considering all of these dumpsters were along the oceanfront very close to our neighboring condo to the north, this represents a great improvement,” he said. “Michael James met with the management of the neighboring condo and quite frankly, they are delighted as you can imagine because of what this used to look like.”

For his part, James said the proposed use compared to the previous use represented a win-win for all involved.

“The dumpsters were obviously not attractive to the condo owners or their renters for many reasons,” he said. “It was generally an eyesore with noise, morning pickups and occasionally seafood odors. They don’t want to walk out there and see dumpsters on the ocean-side. We’d like to put this in not only to help the condo to the north, but enhance the property and provide a better experience for our customers.”

James said the proposed gazebo would have a small bar with about 50 seats and no major food service operation. The attractive gazebo would provide an amenity for the Carousel guests, by and large, but also some public use. He expected about 90 percent of the use would come from Carousel guests and another 10 percent from the public.

“It’s not a nightclub by any stretch,” he said. “We’re not going to have bands out there and that kind of stuff. I can envision people sitting out there on a nice evening and having a conversation and a good time. I don’t envision it being open after 11 p.m. We have outside areas now and they are generally closed by around 9 p.m. or 10 p.m. during the summer.”

Planning Commissioner Lauren Taylor endorsed the proposal. The Planning Commission ultimately voted unanimously to approve the site plan.

“You’re taking essentially an eyesore and turning it into a small park,” she said. “That’s obviously a good thing. The hotel has a good reputation for taking care of its guests and the neighbors. The perception is it is all one piece of property.”

About The Author: Shawn Soper

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Shawn Soper has been with The Dispatch since 2000. He began as a staff writer covering various local government beats and general stories. His current positions include managing editor and sports editor. Growing up in Baltimore before moving to Ocean City full time three decades ago, Soper graduated from Loch Raven High School in 1981 and from Towson University in 1985 with degrees in mass communications with a journalism concentration and history.