Resort Planners Revise Garage Parking Recs

OCEAN CITY – A new recommendation on garage parking will advance to the Mayor and Council with the favorable vote of a resort commission.

Limited to just the scope of parking dimensions, members of the Ocean City Planning and Zoning Commission on Tuesday voted to send a favorable recommendation to the Mayor and City Council that would increase the size of garage parking spaces. Commissioner Palmer Gillis said the increase would offer more space for off-street parking in neighborhoods.

“If we’re restricted to only talking about interior, closed garage spaces, I know two, 10-foot spaces do not work for a two-car garage, flat out, take it to the bank,” he said. “So if we have to do that I think we need to bump up our recommendation as far as the width of the parking space on an enclosed garage.”

In November, the Ocean City Council voted to send proposed code amendments on off-street parking back to the planning commission for revisions. As proposed, the commission recommended the town change the dimensions of enclosed parking spaces on lots greater than 50 feet wide to 10-by-21 feet. The amendment would also require a five-foot driveway apron and changes to off-street parking for multifamily dwellings. Two-and-a-half parking spaces would be required for each three-bedroom unit, with a minimum of one space being unenclosed.

At its November meeting, council members argued the proposed code changes went above and beyond what was asked of the commission. Officials say resort planners were only directed to review the town’s code on garage parking dimensions.

“Right now, the recommendation is very different from what the instructions were,” Councilman Peter Buas said at the time.

Back on Tuesday’s planning commission agenda, Planning and Community Development Director Bill Neville told commissioners they had been instructed to limit their discussions to parking dimensions. He said members had an opportunity to reconsider its recommendation.

“I think there was some interest on the on the council that they did in fact want to talk about some of your other recommendations,” he said. “But it was clear that there should be a recommendation coming forward from the commission that it be limited to just the parking space dimensions.”

For his part, Gillis argued if the commission was forced to abandon its recommendations for additional unenclosed parking, it should recommend a larger garage parking space.

“If we’re restricted to size only, which I think is foolish since we’re only creating more storage space for the owners to not park in a bigger, two-car garage … 12-by-24 feet for single spaces is the smallest I see possible,” he said.

Commissioner Kevin Rohe agreed, noting his company often constructed garage spaces 12 feet wide. He said anything smaller could result in a safety issue.

“I mean if you went into cardiac arrest in your garage, you couldn’t get out,” he said. “It literally boils down to almost life safety.”

Commissioner Joel Brous, however, said a 10-foot width worked better on lots more than 50 feet wide.

“If you go to 12 feet wide on a 100-foot lot, you hinder someone’s property and what they can do,” he said. “That’s why I think 10 is a nice compromise.”

After further discussion, the commission voted to forward a parking size of 12-by-24 feet to the Mayor and Council with a favorable recommendation.

Commission Chair Joe Wilson said other recommendations presented to the Mayor and Council could be discussed at a joint session scheduled for January.

“Anything that is not dimensions, we should save for that joint hearing in January,” he said. “I think there’s a lot to be discussed. But let’s save it for that meeting, so we can hear what they have to say and they can hear what we have to say.”

About The Author: Bethany Hooper

Alternative Text

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.