Ocean Pines Short-Term Rental Referendum Questions Raised

OCEAN PINES – Questions regarding the mailing process for a referendum on short-term rental regulations highlighted an update at last week’s board meeting.

Last Saturday, Ocean Pines Association staff presented the Ocean Pines Board of Directors with an update on a referendum for short-term rental regulations.

Senior Executive Office Manager Linda Martin noted that General Manager John Viola has created an implementation team to develop a plan for performing a referendum, but that questions remained.

“The team has a plan on how to perform the referendum,” she said. “We met with an attorney on the language to put in the referendum, and then the board representatives met with the implementation team on July 18. The team is ready to go, but we have a few questions on how to begin the mailing process and how many times we should do the mailing. So that’s for the board to decide.”

Viola told board members last week that while all the required paperwork had been completed, officials were seeking guidance from the board regarding mailings.

“It’s an intensive process, and we want to make sure this is on track and the board is going forward on this before we start it,” he said.

Association President Doug Parks noted that the board would address those questions in the coming weeks.

“Unless there is some time-sensitive issue, which I don’t think there is, we can certainly have something concrete by the November meeting,” he said.

In 2020, an Ocean Pines work group began meeting with community stakeholders to draft proposed changes to the association’s architectural guidelines on short-term rental properties. According to association officials, there were roughly 180 short-term rentals in Ocean Pines. They noted, however, ongoing issues at three or four properties prompted the association to tighten controls on the short-term rentals.

Ultimately, officials in Ocean Pines opted to incorporate the county’s short-term rental regulations into its Declaration of Restrictions (DRs) with enhanced enforcement provisions, such as fines for property owners who violate the code. To that end, each section of the community will now be given the opportunity to vote for or against the adoption of such regulations into its DRs.

“The other thing I’d also point out is there are five sections where this vote is not required,” Director Frank Daly said last year, “as the Declaration of Restrictions already gives the board powers we are asking for to regulate short-term rentals.”

Daly noted that the initial mailing could be followed by additional mailings until a majority of homeowners in each section casts a vote.

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.