SNOW HILL – County officials have introduced emergency legislation that could help with the redevelopment of Mad Fish Bar & Grill following a fire last summer.
The Worcester County Commissioners this week agreed to introduce a bill that would loosen parking requirements in the commercial marine district — the area around the West Ocean City Commercial Harbor. The bill would allow Mad Fish, which was closed indefinitely after being destroyed in an August fire, to be rebuilt with more of its parking across the street rather than on-site.
“You’ve been requested to introduce and adopt this legislation as quickly as possible for a pending project in the commercial marine district of the West Ocean City Harbor area,” said Kelly Shannahan, the county’s assistant chief administrative officer.
According to Shannahan, the bill would increase the percentage of off-premises parking permitted in the commercial marine district from 50% to 90%.
The change would ease the redevelopment of Mad Fish, which in the past utilized 19 on-site parking spaces as well as a parking lot across South Harbor Road.
“[Co-owner] Cole Taustin has designed a new building,” attorney Hugh Cropper wrote in an email to county officials. “The new building is smaller, but it is pushed back from the water, to provide open space along the harbor.”
As a result, Cropper said there would be about 10 on-site parking spaces instead of 19.
He stressed that the restaurant would have plenty of parking, but that 90% of it would be across the road.
“This is a situation with all of the lots on the West Ocean City Harbor,” he wrote. “They are surrounded by a road, so any substantial parking is across the road.”
Cropper urged the commissioners to approve the suggested change so the redevelopment of Mad Fish — which connections hope will reopen in the summer of 2021 — could move forward.
Shannahan told the commissioners Tuesday that the Worcester County Planning Commission had already reviewed the bill.
“You will see that the planning commission has presented a unanimous unfavorable recommendation for the proposed amendment due to concerns regarding persistent illegal parking and traffic congestion in the West Ocean City Harbor area and the excessive nature of this request,” he said.
The commissioners, all of whom added their name to the bill, voted unanimously to set a public hearing on the proposed change for March 3.