The Ocean Pines community will clearly be the most impacted by the county’s new rental regulations. Though well intended, as is the case with most new laws, enforcement is going to be the challenge.
At this week’s public hearing on a bill, which would limit occupancy (one occupant per 50 square feet of bedroom floor space), Ocean Pines residents shared their impacts from neighbors who rent properties online. A three-bedroom home was advertised as sleeping 12 online, and the result was eight vehicles and two boats. Another resident called her experience of being surrounded by four short-term rentals as “hell.”
Ocean Pines Association President Doug Park stressed the importance of “controls” with this new legislation as well as enforcement.
“… my perspective is not to limit or eliminate rentals but to put it in perspective with regard to the fact that you’re in a community …,” he said. “We’d be very much interested in enforcement. Enforcement would be either administratively cumbersome or financially problematic. We want to make sure we got some guidance from the county on how to address issues when they come up from the folks in Ocean Pines.”
The county was right to take some steps to regulate short-term rentals. Time will tell if “this would make the situation in Ocean Pines worse,” as Commissioner Chip Bertino maintains. I believe this week’s action was prudent considering short-term rentals will continue to grow, thanks to the ease of remote use with AirBnb and related sites.
Where powerlines will be brought ashore from the wind farms in the ocean has long been a question. It has been assumed the larger wind farm – U.S. Wind’s effort – would likely come through the Inlet due to its positioning offshore. The option has been discussed in some meetings. Last month the land power station for the other wind farm – which Orstead will develop and was initially known as the Skipjack project – was discussed as a potential option in Fenwick Island.
There have been mixed reviews on this possibility, but for many there is a lack of awareness on exactly what the wind farm developer is proposing. At an open house in Fenwick Island, some questions were answered. In exchange for allowing Orstead to build an onshore power transmission station at the Fenwick Island State Park, millions of dollars would be given to the state for improvements at the quiet park.
Concerns have already been expressed to the state from the Fenwick Island Society of Homeowners. This week another letter was sent to Delaware Gov. John Carney from Caesar Rodney Institute Center for Energy Competitiveness Director David T. Stevenson seeking more time on the possibility of the Orstead project’s power lines coming ashore at Fenwick Island State Park. Interesting portions of the letter are included below.
“While the first phase of the Skipjack offshore project will be placed at the farthest reaches of the lease space (17 miles), the lease area is large enough to add about thirty-five additional turbines. The lease area comes as close to shore as 13 miles near Rehoboth Beach, and averages 15 miles down Delaware’s entire shoreline …,” “Up till now, Delaware beach towns have had no say. The proposed industrial sized project was approved in Maryland, whose electric customers will pay for the project, and Ørstead has acquired an offshore lease from the U.S. Department of Interior. While the citizens of Delaware can’t reverse those decisions, finding a location to bring the power ashore is a major obstacle to building the project.”
The letter continued, “The Skipjack power cable landfall was originally supposed to be in Ocean City. An information request to Ocean City led to the following comment from City Engineer, Terry McGean, ‘Although we have never been ‘formally’ approached by either developer, Skipjack has informally approached the City about a landfall in Ocean City and they were told that the City would oppose any landfall for a farm visible from our shoreline or any landfall for any project with any above ground equipment located outside the footprint of an existing DPL sub-station.’ … It is not right Maryland’s state government make decisions that will affect the entire Delaware beach economy. Beyond the contribution to improvements to one Delaware state park, the project offers little, or no economic benefits to Delaware. It is not out of line for Delaware beach towns to consider similar concerns. … I urge you to take the time, and delay signing any agreement on transmission cable location until the resort towns have thoroughly reviewed the impact of the turbines through public outreach similar to the serious debate that resulted in resolutions opposing offshore oil well drilling. Please slow this project down.”
In other news, I need to set the record straight on an implication I made last week. It was erroneously implied a threatening voicemail to a commissioner may have led to the lack of sympathy among the Worcester County Commissioners about full-time occupancy issue in White Horse Park. I did not express clearly the voicemail, which was vulgar and left on Commissioner Jim Bunting’s phone, came days after the commissioners’ vote to authorize an enforcement plan of the current code, which restricts year-round living in mobile home parks.