SNOW HILL – County officials this week approved a lease agreement that will allow a sailboat to dock at the West Ocean City Harbor.
The Worcester County Commissioners on Tuesday voted 4-2 to approve a five-year lease agreement with the sailboat Alyosha at the West Ocean City Harbor.
“This is a prime example of something that can benefit the county on the revenue side,” Commissioner Joe Mitrecic said.
Though a motion to approve a one-year lease with Alyosha was considered at the commissioners’ meeting two weeks ago, it failed as just three commissioners — not the four that would make up a majority of the body — voted in favor of it. Mitrecic, who was not present at that meeting, asked that the issue be brought back up this week.
Tom Perlozzo, the county’s director of recreation and parks, approached the commissioners this fall with a lease proposal that would allow Thrive Engineering to dock the 50-foot Alyosha at the harbor, in the space in front of the public restrooms. The proposal included leasing the space to the Alyosha for an annual fee of $8,500 plus half the revenues derived from advertising and corporate sponsorships displayed on the boat’s sails and flags.
A public hearing Oct. 1 resulted in opposition from a variety of citizens as well as from Commissioners Jim Bunting and Chip Bertino. Some citizens expressed concern with the impact the sailboat would have on the already busy harbor while commercial fishermen said they were worried the lease would set a precedent and result in slips being taken away from fishing boats. Bunting argued the Alyosha’s impact on vehicle parking in the already crowded area hadn’t even been considered.
Mitrecic, however, said the questions that came up concerning where the Alyosha picked up its passengers and how it operated were none of the county’s concern. He said the proposed lease would allow the Alyosha to dock at the county space at night.
“This is nighttime docking at the slip,” Mitrecic said. “I don’t think that we should include anything that has to do with how this gentleman does business during the day. Where he picks up people and where he lets them off is really none of the county’s concern. The only concern the county should have is the fact that he wants to lease this slip. He’s not running a commercial enterprise out of the slip.”
Bunting said he still did not support the proposal. He said Mitrecic hadn’t been present during the public hearing to hear the issues raised.
“I still have strong feelings about this,” Bunting said. “This is a use that I really don’t think is allowed by zoning. It shouldn’t be allowed by zoning. If any project in Worcester County goes in front of our departments, they are scrutinized, they have to do certain things, and for where this gentleman is going to have the people parking for his business, I think it should be documented.”
Though Bunting indicated he wanted to hear from citizens in the audience, Diana Purnell, president of the commissioners, said it was not a public hearing. Bunting stressed the rules that applied to all of the county’s other commercial uses should apply to the Alyosha.
“There’s questions that need to be answered,” he said.
The commissioners voted 4-2, with Bunting and Bertino opposed, to approve the lease. Commissioner Bud Church was absent.