Council Approves Miniature Golf In Downtown Areas

OCEAN CITY — Miniature golf will be permitted in the downtown area after resort officials this week approved on first reading an ordinance that will allow the amusement in certain zoning designations.

The Mayor and Council had before them on Monday a first reading of an ordinance that would allow miniature golf courses in certain downtown zoning designations including the B-1 Boardwalk zoning district, and the I-1 Inlet district. It’s no secret there have been miniature golf courses off the Boardwalk and in the downtown area in the past, but for reasons unknown, a code change disallowed the amenity in those zoning districts.

The planning commission in June held a public hearing on the proposed code amendment that would allow miniature golf courses in those specific downtown zoning districts, after which the commission forwarded a favorable recommendation to the full Mayor and Council for approval. With no discussion, the council unanimously approved the proposed code amendment on Monday.

At different times over the decades there have been miniature golf courses in the downtown area and off the Boardwalk. During the public hearing at the planning commission level last month, Planning and Community Development Director Bill Neville said at some point it was decided that a miniature golf course may not be the best use of valuable downtown property slated for redevelopment.

“I think all of us remember that there have been miniature golf courses at different locations downtown,” Neville said at the planning commission’s public hearing. “So, we did check with Glenn Irwin at the Ocean City Development Corporation. He was recalling the history on the fact that when the upper downtown and lower downtown overlay districts were put in place, there was a sense that the value of the land and the redevelopment concept for downtown may not be favorable for that type of amusement use any longer. So, I think at one point the OCDC may have recommended that it wasn’t a necessary use to be permitted. That may have been why it was removed unless the commissioners recall other history on that.”

Market forces and economics will determine what is the best use for the redevelopment of a parcel. It was brought up a miniature golf course could be just one amenity as part of a larger mixed-use redevelopment project such as a hotel or resort complex. With no discussion, the council voted unanimously to approve the conditional use allowing miniature golf courses in the downtown and Boardwalk commercial zoning districts.

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.