Street-End Project Protocols Sought

OCEAN CITY- Ocean City officials are looking to establish protocols for beautification projects located at the beach end of resort roadways.

In a Coastal Resources Legislative Committee, or Green Team, meeting last week, Ocean City Environmental Engineer Gail Blazer presented a potential landscaping project located on 138th Street. According to Blazer, the owner of the property adjacent to a dune crossing area wants to adopt the land that harbors the beach pathway, move the crosswalk away from his house, and landscape the parcel.

The property owner is tearing down the duplex that sits on his land and replacing it with a three-story, single-family, ocean-front home, according to Blazer. After moving the path away from his building, the property owner would like to add flagpoles, plants and other decorative elements.

“The walkway will come down and walk right next to his house,” she said. “So he wanted to, on his own, move it to the center and plant it and make it really pretty and beautiful.”

The area adjacent to the property owner’s land, however, is considered the city’s right-of-way and the project must be approved by the city, which is where the inconsistency begins, according to Blazer.

“We don’t really have any real protocol to follow,” she said. “So what we are trying to figure out is if they want to do something, and people want to adopt these areas, we are going to develop a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with regard to what the responsibility is.”

To start addressing these issues, Blazer said she had already drafted a MOU for Green Team members and city officials to consider before bringing it to the property owner. The plan, she added, was to let Green Team members suggest recommendations, which would be added to the MOU and either sent to the Mayor and Council or appropriate staff for approval. The only certainty was that any agreement would have to go through the city manager.

Committee members agreed that plants added to the landscaping must be indigenous to the area and requested that the property owner has an understanding that he or she is creating a natural habitat for wild animals.

“If you attract them in there, they are protected,” said Sandi Smith of the Maryland Coastal Bays Program.

Councilman and Green Team Committee chair Tony DeLuca added that other elements are prohibited in close proximity to the beach.

“Plus, no hardscape, no rocks, no irrigation because you are on the beach,” he said.

Blazer agreed to add verbiage that would reflect the recommendations and added the city would continue to maintain the sand fencing that runs along the beach. However, the property owner would be responsible for the landscaping.

About The Author: Bethany Hooper

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Bethany Hooper has been with The Dispatch since 2016. She currently covers various general stories. Hooper graduated from Stephen Decatur High School in 2012 and the University of Maryland in 2016, where she completed double majors in journalism and economics.