Single Beach Photo Franchise Approved

OCEAN CITY — Resort officials this week approved on second reading a couple of ordinances, one consolidating the beach telescope picture business into a single franchise and another conveying a portion of town-owned property in West Ocean City to the volunteer fire company.

For years, Ocean City’s beach photography franchise was essentially divided into two separate franchises and under the town’s code, one vendor can hold both franchises. The two franchises are not divided geographically, but rather limit the number of photographers allowed on the beach to 15 each day.

Last year, J and S Management, which has held both beach photography franchises for over a decade, was the sole bidder on just one of the franchises at a cost of $152,500 per year. The second franchise was not bid on and remained open. However, J and S Management reached out to the city in July with an unsolicited of $40,000 for the remainder of the summer.

Resort officials accepted that unsolicited bid at the time and promised to revisit the entire beach photography franchise system after the summer season. In August, J and S Management expressed an interest in retaining the second franchise for the 2020 to 2022 seasons and offered $76,250 per year, which is under the current required minimum bid at $150,000 per franchise. However, because J and S already held the contract for the first beach photography franchise at $152,500 per year, adding the second for $76,250 would bring in a combined $228,750 to the town for the entire operation, which is actually more than the town brought in from the two franchises this year.

On Monday, the Mayor and Council approved the ordinance codifying the beach photography franchise into a single franchise.

In another piece of business that went by quietly on Monday, the Mayor and Council approved on second reading an ordinance that will convey a piece of property at the town’s public works facility on Keyser Point Road in West Ocean City to the adjacent Ocean City Volunteer Fire Company. In April, the OCVFC requested another boundary line adjustment to facilitate future growth for the company’s West Ocean City station. The Mayor and Council approved the land swap with the condition the appropriate approvals were acquired from Worcester County.

As a result, the Mayor and Council approved the transfer of the flag-shaped parcel at the Keyser Point public works facility to the OCVFC. The expansion will allow the OCVFC to accommodate a growing desire for its live-in program.

About The Author: Shawn Soper

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Shawn Soper has been with The Dispatch since 2000. He began as a staff writer covering various local government beats and general stories. His current positions include managing editor and sports editor. Growing up in Baltimore before moving to Ocean City full time three decades ago, Soper graduated from Loch Raven High School in 1981 and from Towson University in 1985 with degrees in mass communications with a journalism concentration and history.