OCEAN CITY — Resort officials this week approved on second reading a building code amendment that will allow for stronger enforcement on pollution associated with the installation of Styrofoam insulation used on the exteriors of many development projects.
Through much of the summer, Ocean City officials have been attempting to address the pollution associated with the installation of Exterior Insulated Finish Systems (EIFS), most commonly known by the trade name Dry-Vit on many new construction projects in the resort. The EIFS are desirable because they can easily be adapted to fit unique architectural features on new buildings and are generally the most cost-effective insulations systems, but what is not desirable is the frequent “snowstorms” of plastic pellets that carry through the air and settle on adjacent properties, on the beaches and dunes and in the waterways.
On Tuesday, the Mayor and Council approved an amendment to the town’s building code that will require contractors to use best management practices to contain the snowstorm of Styrofoam pellets or run the risk of having a project shut down.
The code change would require contractors to install a containment system from six feet above where the EIFS is being installed down to the ground. It will also require tools be fitted with vacuum systems and would also require vacuuming the ground on construction sites to ensure the pellets do not leave the property. Contractors have shown a willingness to work with the city on the issue and participated in the drafting of the regulations.
Perhaps the biggest hammer for the city with the adoption of the building code amendment is the ability to halt a project when complaints are filed or violations are detected. The existing littering ordinance remains in place, but the ability to shut down a project but more teeth in the ordinance.
What the approved amendment essentially does is allow city inspectors to shut down construction projects if a violation is detected. There was some discussion about strengthening the littering ordinance, but after considerable debate, city staffers determined a building code amendment greatly enhanced the resort’s enforcement abilities.