Vehicle Rental Business Proposal Fails Despite 3-2 Vote

OCEAN CITY—After essentially denying a similar request from a different business, resort officials on Monday also did not pass a conditional use request for a new Polaris Slingshot vehicle rental operation.

Earlier on Monday, a request for a conditional use permit for a new business proposed to rent and sell light vehicles such as three-wheeled slingshots, light-powered mopeds, electric scooters and Segways essentially ended when a motion to approve by a councilmember died for lack of a second. Later in the same meeting, the council voted 3-2 on a conditional use permit request for a different business plan at the 18th Street shopping center. However, because two councilmembers, John Gehrig and Tony DeLuca, were absent, there were just five voting members on the dais and the 3-2 majority vote was not enough to approve the conditional use request. A majority of four members is needed to approve such a request.

In April, the Ocean City Planning Commission sent a favorable recommendation to the Mayor and Council for the requested conditional use permit for the Polaris Slingshot vehicle rental operation out of a space in the 18th Street shopping center. The commission approved the request after the applicant, Phoenix Property Investments, agreed to reduce the size of the Dollar Store retail business in the shopping center by 450-square-feet to accommodate the Slingshot rental business, thereby meeting the parking requirements.

By reducing the size of the existing business, Phoenix Property Investments came up with parking spaces for the Slingshot rental business.

“The applicant originally requested three vehicle rentals, and sought three off-site parking spaces for them,” said Planning and Community Development Director Bill Neville. “It was determined if the Dollar Store was reduced by 450-square-feet, two spaces would become available for the vehicle rental business. The space on the side of the business could accommodate two of the Slingshot vehicles. The concern was if you don’t come up with a solution with layering businesses and meeting the parking requirements.”

Councilman Mark Paddack said he was satisfied with the parking arrangement for the rental business and made a motion to approve the conditional use permit request.

“These are licensed vehicles that are regulated and insured,” he said. “Where are you going to store them when the business operation is closed? I know the crowd coming out of the neighboring business late at night and early in the morning will not be kind to these vehicles when they come out of the vehicles are still parked out there.”

Phoenix Properties representative Harry How said the three Slingshot vehicles would be safely secured when the business was not open.

“These things aren’t cheap,” he said. “They cost $15,000 to $20,000 and they are going to take good care of them.”

How said the business operators considered several alternatives for the parking situation.

“With the parking, we worked on many solutions and this was the best answer,” he said. “The difference for this proposal is the renters will have to be 21-years-old and licensed and insured. There will be extensive training. It’s no different than going to Enterprise and renting a vehicle.”

Councilman Frank Knight said he preferred that option to the earlier presentation for a similar business.

“I like this opportunity more than the one we previously reviewed,” he said. “I like the fact there is a 21-year-old age limit and like the fact they will watch a video and get trained.”

With that said, the council voted 3-2 with Council President Matt James and Councilman Lloyd Martin opposed to approve the conditional use request for the business, but the application fell one short of the requisite four votes needed to pass the proposal.

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.