SNOW HILL – The Worcester County Commissioners approved a request for additional sewer capacity for a new restaurant in West Ocean City.
The commissioners voted 6-1 to approve a request for additional EDUs (equivalent dwelling units) for a restaurant in the new Hooper’s Plaza Shopping Center. Commissioner Joe Mitrecic said he opposed the request because of the parking issues at the adjacent Hooper’s Crab House.
“Somebody’s going to end up getting killed out there,” he said. “I can’t support this until we get some kind of parking plan from the applicants.”
According to county staff, the connections of the shopping plaza were seeking seven additional EDUs. Though they purchased nine EDUs last year to serve the plaza, which at that time was proposed as retail and office space, they’ve now decided to use a portion of the shopping center for a 75-seat restaurant.
“They are now proposing to lease space for a restaurant which will generate additional sewer flow and therefore require purchase of additional EDUs to accommodate the proposed use,” Assistant Chief Administrative Officer Kelly Shannahan said.
Mitrecic said he’d recently advised Director of Development Review and Permitting Ed Tudor of his concerns regarding the existing parking situation at Hooper’s Crab House.
“We have a severe parking issue out there,” he said. “Saturday night at seven o’clock there were cars parked on both side of the shoulder of Route 50 from the bridge all the way up past Chick-fil-A. I think the applicants know they have a problem, they have people working the parking lot for them.”
He said a 75-seat restaurant would only make the issue worse. He said all of the parking spaces in the area were full Saturday when the new restaurant wasn’t even open yet.
Tudor said that nevertheless Hooper’s Crab House and the new shopping plaza met the minimum parking requirements.
“Of course, we do have I guess you would say an extraordinary circumstance, a very popular place,” he said. “I’m sure there’s parking that bleeds over from establishment to establishment over there but they do meet their required minimums.”
According to Tudor the new restaurant would require 17 parking spaces. Jennifer Keener, the county’s zoning administrator, said that as initially proposed, the shopping plaza needed 80 spaces. With the change in use of part of it into a restaurant, it now needs 90 or 91 spaces. She said the developer had provided 131.
“They provided more than the minimum required,” she said.
The commissioners voted 6-1, with Mitrecic opposed, to approve the EDU request.