OCEAN CITY — Satisfied certain security measures would be addressed, resort officials this week approved a conditional use request for a new mini-golf course on the old 45th Street Village property.
On Monday, the Mayor and Council had before them a conditional use request that would allow for the development of a new, 18-hole mini-golf course on the southwest corner of the old 45th Street Village property. The proposed mini-golf course is part of a larger plan to redevelop the old shopping center at 45th Street.
The 45th Street Taphouse along with O.C. Steamers occupies much of the north portion of the vast property, while a new Aloft hotel is nearing completion on the southeast corner. Planning and Community Development Director Bill Neville explained the original plan called for 15,000 square-feet of new retail space along the south portion of the property closest to Coastal Highway, but plans now call for an 18-hole mini-golf course on that portion.
“The beach-themed mini-golf course would replace the 15,000 square-feet of retail space in the original plan,” he said. “The timing is good because we just lost one of our mini-golf courses (Planet Maze). This would bring the total to 12 courses and 288 holes of mini-golf available in Ocean City.”
Neville explained the council had before them a conditional use request that had already received a favorable recommendation from the planning commission. While generally pleased with the golf course design and satisfied it had met the requirements of a conditional use request, the council appeared to be on the fast track for approving it, but Councilman Mark Paddack had a few questions about security.
“Because of the volume of foot traffic in that area and the close proximity to Coastal Highway, I can envision yahoos on the street jumping in and out of this,” he said. “Is the fencing adequate? Is there enough lighting?”
Paddack drew from his vast experience as a resort police officer when he asked questions about fencing, lighting and security.
“In my experience, mini-golf courses have been prone to malicious destruction of property and disorderly conduct, especially after business hours,” he said. “Are there security cameras in the plan or do they any plans for on-site, after-hours security?”
Neville explained the council had before them a request for a conditional use and certain things such as lighting and fencing would be addressed by the planning commission at the site plan review level. Nonetheless, Paddack remained adamant about having security measure in place.
“It’s a big area at nighttime and based on my history, security around there is paramount,” he said. “Security cameras and lighting could be extremely helpful, especially in this area.”
Councilman John Gehrig cautioned his colleagues about micro-managing development projects and reminded them of another amusement project on which conditions such as the number and age of employees was dictated.
“I just want to get out of the business of micro-managing a lot of these projects,” he said. “It’s in their best interest to have security and lighting and appropriate fencing and that’s a function of the business community.”
Councilman Matt James agreed with Gehrig the council often delves too deeply in the daily operations of a business during the approval process.
“I just don’t think we should be dictating these things to businesses,” he said. “We should leave running the business to the business owner. Lighting is covered in our zoning code. That’s why we have a zoning code.”
The council voted 5-0 with Council President Lloyd Martin and Councilman Tony DeLuca absent to approve the conditional use for the proposed mini-golf course at the old 45th Street Village property.