Council Adopts Air Rights Ordinance For Majestic Project

Council Adopts Air Rights Ordinance For Majestic Project
The council this week voted to adopt an air rights ordinance that will allow the developer of the Majestic Hotel property to redevelop the site. Design concepts for the redevelopment are pictured above. Photo Courtesy of Atlantic Planning and Development Inc.

OCEAN CITY – An ordinance conveying air rights over a portion of a resort alleyway was approved on second reading this week.

In a Mayor and Council meeting Monday, officials voted to adopt an ordinance granting air rights over a portion of Washington Lane at 613 Atlantic Avenue. The approval will allow the developer of the Majestic Hotel property to redevelop the site.

“After advertisement and public hearing on April 17, 2023, the Mayor and Council determined it was more desirable for the alley known as Washington Lane to remain open to the public, and accordingly to achieve this, it is in the best interest of public health, safety and general welfare to grant the request for air rights,” a memo reads. “The Mayor and Council directed the City Solicitor to prepare an ordinance conveying air rights tied to this specific project and to the testimony provided during the public hearing.”

In March, Moore came before the Mayor and Council with a request to grant air rights above Washington Lane in order to construct a single building connecting properties to the east and west of the 16-foot-wide public alley. After considerable discussion, officials agreed to advance the request to a public hearing, which was held in April.

As proposed, the Majestic Hotel property will be redeveloped to include two buildings connected by a fitness center, arcade, hospitality rooms and the like. In exchange for air rights to make the project a reality, the developer has committed to widening the alleyway and constructing a five-foot bike lane.

“We’re mindful of the fact that we have an iconic property and therefore want to develop it in the best way possible for the benefit of the citizens of the town,” Joe Moore, the developer’s attorney, told officials earlier this year. “Therefore, we have provided a facility which enhances the property from the standpoint of the fact we are developing the entire property from the Boardwalk to Baltimore Avenue.”

Moore told the Mayor and Council in April the town had granted air rights ordinances over the years for various projects, including the most recent Margaritaville development.

In recent meetings, however, residents have voiced their opposition to abandoning the city’s air rights.

“I’d like to say that I am opposed to abandoning any air rights, which to me is just euphemism for giving it away for free,” resident Robert Help said. “I think the air rights have a definite dollar value attached to it.”

Last month, the council voted to approve the conveyance of air rights on first reading.

With no discussion this week, the council voted to adopt the ordinance in a 4-0 vote, with Councilman Peter Buas abstaining and Councilman Will Savage and Frank Knight absent.

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.