OC Retains Boardwalk Code Officer

OCEAN CITY — Resort officials last week agreed to find the funding for a seasonal Boardwalk code enforcement officer after concerns over regressing on recent progress were heard.

Two weeks ago, Planning and Community Development Director Bill Neville pointed out some changes within his department staff had reduced to need for a part-time seasonal code enforcement officer on the Boardwalk that monitors compliance with the town’s codes regarding outdoor displays and signage. Over the years, complaints were commonly heard on on the Boardwalk about the content and location of some outdoor displays and signs.

In response, a part-time code enforcement officer position was created to be the eyes and ears for the city on signage and displays on the Boardwalk and to let merchants know they were being monitored. When Neville presented his fiscal year 2018 budget during a work session two weeks ago, he told the council he believed the part-time code enforcement position could be eliminated through creative scheduling and better utilizing his other staffing resources.

Neville pointed out the position, which costs about $3,300, could be eliminated because the number of complaints had dropped considerably and it was no longer a major issue. However, Mayor Rick Meehan pointed out the number of violations and subsequent complaints had decreased because of the presence of the code enforcement officer.

Meehan reasoned if the part-time code enforcement position was eliminated, the word would spread quickly among some Boardwalk business owners the signs and displays were no longer being monitored and there could be a potential backsliding to the way things were before the codes were strictly enforced.

“Part of the success of last year was because in previous years there was a summer enforcement officer and they anticipated that,” he said. “We created a better position up there and I would hate to see us fall backward. Without a presence up there at all, once the Boardwalk telegraph is aware of that, things can change and they can change rapidly.”

During a budget wrap-up session on Friday, the council voted unanimously to continue to fund the part-time Boardwalk code enforcer. The roughly $3,300 needed will be made up from other areas of the Planning and Community Development budget.

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.