Ocean City To Seek Sustainable Communities Designation Renewal

Ocean City To Seek Sustainable Communities Designation Renewal
Photo by Chris Parypa

OCEAN CITY – The Town of Ocean City will seek to renew its Sustainable Communities designation.

Last week, Planning and Community Development Director Bill Neville presented the Mayor and Council with a request to submit an application renewing the town’s Sustainable Communities designation. He said the designation must be renewed every five years.

“This is an opportunity for council to consider and hopefully approve a renewal of our Sustainable Communities plan,” he said. “Back in January we received a letter from the Department of Housing and Community Development notifying us that the five-year timeframe would expire December 18 of this year and that it needed to be renewed and updated.”

The Sustainable Communities renewal will give the Town of Ocean City an opportunity to update its existing Sustainable Communities action plan and report its accomplishments made over the past five years, according to a memo submitted to the council. The Sustainable Communities designation is required if the town wants to seek funding through DHCD revitalization programs, such as the Community Legacy Program and the Strategic Demolition Fund.

During his presentation last week, Neville said the town has been working with the Ocean City Development Corporation (OCDC) to complete its renewal application. He noted that the organization had formed an advisory committee to review the Sustainable Communities plan and recommend updates.

“We would hope that the council would approve the plan as prepared, incorporating any ideas that you have, and allow the city manager to sign the last page of the document so we can forward that to the state,” he said.

For his part, OCDC Executive Director Zach Bankert recognized the importance of renewing the Sustainable Communities designation. He said the designation was used to secure downtown revitalization grants.

“The designation is very important to us,” he said. “They make us renew it every five years, the DHCD. This designation makes the OCDC, and Ocean City as a town, eligible for our community legacy grants, as well as our strategic demolition grants. So those are the very productive OCDC programs like the Façade Program, Green Energy, Strategic Demolition. Most of the grants we get through OCDC is because we have this designation here.”

With no further discussion, the council voted 6-0, with Councilman John Gehrig absent, to submit the renewal application for the Sustainable Communities designation.

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.