Downtown Project Questioned
The Honorable Rick Meehan, Town Council, Mr. Miller, Ocean City Planning and Community Development, and O-cean City Development Corporation:
(The following was submitted to The Dispatch as well as the assignees:)
As an owner in Assateague House Condominiums, 210 Worcester Street, I am writing to state my opposition to the requested zoning variances for
700 S. Philadelphia Avenue, “Old
Town” Ocean City, BZA 2608, File 22-09500001. In my opinion by allowing the building to proceed with the requested variances will create a nuisance for residents, businesses and visitors while only benefitting the developer of the project, Effie’s Beach LLC, Sterling, Virginia.
By allowing these variances, the neg-
ative impact will cause parking shortages for existing residences, business-es and visitors in an already parking-
deficient area of Ocean City. The setback variances will totally destroy the beauty and relaxing atmosphere of Sunset Park as well as create a life safety issue for the residents of the new proposed hotel.
The downtown area of the town is
already grossly deficient in available parking for the visitors and employees of the Boardwalk and amusement area businesses. The “agreement with the town for the 40 off-site parking spaces” will add to this deficiency by another 40 available spaces, not to mention the need for additional employee parking.
During the “season” already at my building it is a daily battle, sometimes with very aggressive individuals of un-authorized vehicles parking on our property. By allowing these parking variances to go into effect and with the addition of more traffic for the new con-
ference center, this will only make this situation worse for residents of our building as well as neighboring buildings.
Allowing the passage of the zoning variance on the “setback” and “perimeter landscaping” will virtually turn Sunset Park into an alley way next to a ho-
tel. If I read the plans correctly the building will literally be built on the border of the park, not to mention moving an e-
lectrical transformer into the park. The beauty of Sunset Park is the quiet open-
air area with a view of the Inlet and bay. With an eight-story building literally built on the park edge, Sunset Park will be nothing more than a shaded lot no long-er enjoyable for residents and visitors. Maybe the town can annex the property and expand the park?
I would be remiss if I did not bring up the life safety hazard created by elim-inating the required setback in the shadow of the recent deaths of 19 civilians in New York. By removing the appropriate setback on the “northern side” of the property and the proximity of the water on the other side, emergency access will only be available on the alpha (front) side of the building. This means there is no emergency ingress or egress for emergency personnel to reach potential victims or the ability to establish a means of emergency egress for firefighters in the event of an emergen-cy.
To put this simply, no aerial or tower ladder trucks and potentially ground ladders will not be able to access over two of the three sides of the structure to conduct rescue operations. Even with the modern fire safety equipment technology today there is no guarantee it will work property in a hazardous environment.
My other concerns include night time light pollution, i.e. the Cambria Hotel, day time shadow pollution, noise pollution due to the increased size, poten-
tial negative stormwater management impacts to an already stressed area, ingress and more importantly egress of the guests and visitors onto Philadelphia Avenue after events visiting the proposed use of the project. The height of the building, this project will dwarf the other building within a few blocks of the site.
According to the rules, the property owner must “demonstrate a hardship” to receive a variance. This is where the Appeals Board and Town Council needs to ask, do we need this building, or do we want this building? Clearly Mr. Sa-rantis wants the building this size, but does not need the building to be this large. A beautiful hotel and spa could easily be built within the requirement of the codes and laws without exceptions. Does Ocean City need another 80-room hotel/spa/conference center that will dis-
rupt other property owners, residents, visitors and the environment? Simple, the answer is no. The charm of “downtown OC” is the smaller, older-style buildings around the Boardwalk and Inlet, unlike North O.C.
New Leadership Desired
We need to get our head out of our behind. We keep putting the same people in office by listening to what they say. We never pay attention to what they have done. We need to be involved by paying attention to individuals who are running for office, by what they have done, not just what they say they are going to do and never do.
We need more and better people running for office in all parties. We have a news media that has not been truthful with the American people and this fright-
ens me. They, and social media, have put a scare in anyone who really would like to run, but fear for their family. People who are narcissists don’t have a problem with the news media or social media, they relish it. It appears the reporters must say whatever their CEO states or lose their cushy job. We no longer have truly investigative reporters who went out to find the truth no matter who it hurt. We as a free people, for now, need to do our own homework.
Another thing that is hurting this country and its people is the fact that this administration continues to pit American citizens against each other. That is a prime way for our country to fall apart. We are the most diverse country in the world and should be proud of it. In last week’s article, an individual was characterized as a radical. All the gentleman was saying are the steps needed to easily control a country, just like at China, Russia, Iran, etc. Look back at history and there have been more than 70 incidents at the capitol in the past with some including bombs and guns. What is the reason this one is getting so much attention.
Another issue is what is being taught in school. There used to be a time when civics was taught before the federal takeover of our schools. This course was about our country and how it began, good and bad. This is the reason we need more than public schools and our tax dollars to follow the student and better educate our children. We now rank 27th in the world with the average expenditure of $30,165 per student compared to an average of $15,566 for the rest of the world.
Thanks for Law Enforcement
Are there bad cops in the system? Sure. We have seen a recent spate of attacks on police, and a jury soon will decide whether the police who did not intervene to stop some of their brethren from killing George Floyd should be held accountable.
But the vast, vast, majority of police are “good cops”. They joined their departments to protect and serve us, and they do a fine job of it, day in and day out. Bashing “the police” is unwarranted and counter-productive.
I suggest that the next time you see a police officer you approach that person, and say something like “Thank you for your service to our (town, county, state)”. They deserve it and will appreciate it.
Former Deputy Attorney General, founder of Citizens for Criminal Justice, Dover, Del.