New OC Planning Position Approved

OCEAN CITY — Resort officials have approved a new full-time staff member for the Planning and Community Development department.

After the draft fiscal year 2022 budget was presented three weeks ago, each individual departments came before the Mayor and Council to outline their individual budgets and special requests and needs. Planning and Community Development Director Bill Neville was among the first to make his presentation, and while he didn’t specifically request a new position, it came to light his department was getting by with a short staff compared to its many responsibilities.

During the budget presentations, the Mayor and Council considered adding another full-time employee to the department and deferred it to the budget wrap-up session when loose ends are tied up. Neville made his pitch, outlining the many responsibilities of his department, including, but not limited to development reviews, building permits, building inspections, housing inspections, housing code enforcement and even Boardwalk code enforcement.

The department also acts as a liaison for the planning commission, the board of zoning appeals and other town agencies. With a recent growth spurt in the town, Mayor Rick Meehan pointed out Neville’s department needs at least one more staffer to handle the myriad of duties.

The department has five staff members in the planning and zoning section, including one part-time seasonal Boardwalk code inspector. There are seven staff members in the building and inspection section, including one part-time seasonal housing inspector, along with two staffers in the plumbing permit and inspection section.

The department has become adept and managing the caseload with cross-training and double duty for some staffers. However, during a budget wrap-up session last Thursday, the Mayor and Council voted to approve the additional full-time staffer for the department.

Councilman Mark Paddack pointed out the additional staffer could help address other issues related to the department.

“This issue has been brewing with our contractors and other service providers, and this new position will pay for itself,” he said. “There is so much work going on and there are non-licensed and non-bonded contractors working in town. They come in as scabs, doing work and leaving our citizens afloat when the work isn’t done properly.”

About The Author: Shawn Soper

Alternative Text

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.