It didn’t take long for new Ocean City Councilman Mark Paddack to shake things up at City Hall.
Paddack clearly is not on the same page as his colleagues when it comes to the Rapoport property on the Boardwalk that’s been home to Dumser’s Dairyland for more than 50 years. It’s unknown if he was the only council member opposed to continuing this legal battle, but he certainly was the sole official who went public against the effort.
Shortly after the Mayor and Council decided to ask the Court of Special Appeals to reconsider its recent ruling against the town, Paddack took to a lengthy Facebook post to express his frustration with the council’s decision to continue on this legal battle.
“The Town of Ocean City will continue the Nathans Associates case with a request for reconsideration to the Maryland Court of Special Appeals. I humbly admit I failed to persuade my colleagues on the Council with my sound reasoning. I heard my colleagues’ logic and reason. I tried to understand their points but in the end they made no sense to me,” Paddack wrote. “Continuing the Nathan’s Associates case through the courts at the expense of the taxpayers … just makes no sense to me. To continue and attempt to crush a business that generates tax revenue. A tenured business such as Dumser’s that has fostered memories for hundreds of families. To discount the future memories makes no sense to me. What the town will gain in the court of public opinion is unfortunately more public resentment, lack of trust and vocal outcry. “
Whether it was in response to Paddack or the haters on Facebook of the city’s position, Ocean City Mayor Rick Meehan issued his own statement through traditional media outlets as well as Facebook.
“Although on-going litigation prevented us from speaking openly, I believe it is important to clarify our position. Despite the deceptions of the heirs of Mr. Rapoport, our actions have NEVER been against Dumser’s. In fact, the Council has shown NO desire to displace Dumser’s. Once this matter is resolved, the Town will be in a position to negotiate an agreement with Dumser’s that will be beneficial for them, as well as the tax payers of Ocean City …,” Meehan wrote. “Simply, if you own property in Ocean City and are paying taxes, then this “rent” belongs to you…not the heirs of Mr. Rapoport. While they have done a good job making it look like the Town of Ocean City are the bad guys, they are the ones who continue to profit off of land that is owned by the public. But yet, somehow, the Town of Ocean City is the “greedy” one. In this case, perception is NOT reality.”
It’s important to note if the city were to be victorious Dumser’s Dairyland owner Don Timmons has said he would never become a tenant to the city. Therefore, Ocean City
At the end of this week’s council meeting, Ocean City Councilman Matt James commented on the case as well.
“I just want to take a minute to publicly thank the mayor for releasing a statement today about the Rapoport case and the city’s position,” he said. “At the end of last week, Councilman Paddack made a Facebook post that we were attempting to crush a business, and I think it’s great that the mayor made it clear that has never been our intent and that we’re just looking out for the best interest of the public.”
Where this drama will go from here is easy to predict. The Court of Special Appeals will stand by its decision issued last month. The city will then decide to take the case to the Court of Appeals, which may or may not agree to hear the case.
The issue of short-term rentals has come up three times over the last month with governments in Ocean City and Berlin discussing it as well as the Worcester County Commissioners this week.
The commissioners have taken the opportunity with the proliferation of Airbnb rentals to potentially create a rental license for the county as a whole. The entire discussion came as a surprise to me as I figured the county already had a rental license requirement in place. This week’s discussion around it was interesting, and it’s clear the county sees a potential new revenue source. Requiring a rental license will not bring in a lot of money, but anything will help evidently.
Commissioner Joe Mitrecic, who led the charge on the county creating a rental license requirement, said, “This is a revenue generator the county needs to move towards. … We’re going to have to find some money and this is a possibility for us to increase revenue.”
New Commissioner Josh Nordstrom agreed with Mitrecic and had a good take on the situation.
“These Airbnbs, these private rentals, they compete with our hotels, they compete with these businesses who are here and pay their taxes and their licensing fees,” he said. “If it’s essentially the same as staying in a hotel or similar I think they ought to be subject to the same sort of laws that the hotels are.”