Robust Opposition Ends Proposed Easement Concept; Bike Strategic Plan Process Continues

OCEAN CITY – Officials say a proposal to use a 10-foot construction easement for the development of a bike route has been eliminated from the strategic planning process.

Following an outpouring of opposition from property owners in Ocean City, a proposal to include a 10-foot construction easement in the town’s bike strategic plan will no longer be considered.

“We wanted to present to council first, get a thumbs up or a thumbs down from the council, and then proceed to get public input from all the property owners,” said Paul Mauser, president of the town’s Bike and Pedestrian Advisory Committee (BPAC). “We had a very professional process planned and it was short-circuited by false information and fake news unfortunately. We’re not even going to get true data on this project. But it’s no longer being considered.”

Earlier this year, the town hired Toole Design Group, a national consultant, to develop a strategic plan that will be used to expand Ocean City’s bicycle network.

In recent years, the resort has embarked on a multi-phased initiative to install a continuous bike path from one end of town to another without using Coastal Highway. With the help of a strategic plan, officials say the town will have designs and cost estimates for several proposed biking corridors, including Coastal Highway, 94th Street, 146th Street, town alleys from 27th to 62nd streets and 62nd to 94th streets, and a 10-foot construction easement west of the primary dunes from 94th to 118th streets.

“We’re at the point now where we’ve picked all the low-hanging fruit,” Mauser said this week. “The only remaining bike routes we have left are the hard ones.”

During the Dec. 8 BPAC meeting, Mauser told committee members that plans to present a progress report on the development of the bike strategic plan had been pulled from the Nov. 30 Mayor and Council work session after receiving emails and phone calls from several property owners objecting to the 10-foot construction easement.

“I got at least 100 emails,” added Councilman Tony DeLuca, committee liaison. “Three supported it and 97 were kind of ugly.”

Officials noted that the strategic plan will be back on the Mayor and Council agenda for Jan. 11, but without a discussion on the use of the 10-foot construction easement.

“It was never approved,” DeLuca noted. “It was just part of our strategic plan, it was brainstorming … We had everything on that strategic plan but a bike monorail … You have to really think outside the box, so we were thinking outside the box with the 10-foot easement.”

DeLuca added that only one councilman had supported the idea of the 10-foot construction easement. A majority of residents, however, had opposed it.

“That’s where we are,” he said. “If 97 people would have said, ‘We love this idea,’ we would have done it. But since they said no, it’s done. It’s just that simple to me.”

About The Author: Bethany Hooper

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Bethany Hooper has been with The Dispatch since 2016. She currently covers various general stories. Hooper graduated from Stephen Decatur High School in 2012 and the University of Maryland in 2016, where she completed double majors in journalism and economics.