Resort’s Comp Plan Update Sent To State For Review

OCEAN CITY — Ocean City officials agreed last week to forward the resort’s mid-term five-year comprehensive plan to the state for review after a year-long systematico review.

For the last year or so, the Planning and Zoning Commission has conducted a chapter-by-chapter review of the town’s existing comprehensive plan. The weighty tome that outlines Ocean City’s recent growth activities and lays out a plan for the future in a wide variety of areas from land use to economic development and from population trends to housing, transportation and infrastructure, for example.

The Maryland Department of Planning requires jurisdictions to submit a comprehensive plan in 10-year cycles in conjunction with the U.S. Census and Ocean City’s plan was last updated in 2009.

Last Tuesday, Planning and Community Development Director Bill Neville presented the proposed comprehensive plan to the Mayor and Council for tentative approval before submitting it to the Maryland Department of Planning, which will review the proposed comprehensive plan for the next 60 days before it is ready for public consumption.

“The comprehensive plan acts as both a journal and plan for the future,” said Neville. “It allows us to look back at where we’ve been but it’s also a tool for directing us on where we are going in the future. I think we’re at the point now where we can forward this to the appropriate state agency.”

Councilman John Gehrig questioned whether the policies stated in the proposed comprehensive plan reflected the policies of the Mayor and Council, particularly on short-term rentals in residential neighborhoods.

“It seems like there are some redundancies,” he said. “Short-term rentals are mentioned at least four times in here. I think that needs to be discussed on its own because it has property rights repercussions. I just don’t think this should be skating through without discussion by the Mayor and Council.”

Mayor Rick Meehan explained the comprehensive plan dealt largely in concepts and specific important issues such as short-term rentals in family-friendly neighborhoods would continue to be fully vetted by the council.

“This is just a journal, a blueprint for the future,” he said. “Anything that requires major changes would have to come to us and be passed by ordinance.”

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.