(May 3, 2013) The Ocean City Board of Zoning Appeals discussed the following matters during its April 25, 2013 session:
Continuance granted for Boardwalk property
The board granted a continuance for a proposed redevelopment at 407 Atlantic Ave., allowing the project’s applicants to come back to the board later with revised plans without having to file a new case.
“Our intentions are to revise our request substantially … and resubmit it after we have had conversations with some of the other folks involved,” said attorney Joe Moore.
The anticipated revision of the plans for the property, currently occupied by the Hampton House, on the Boardwalk between Fourth and Fifth streets, were due to considerable public outcry and consternation about the size and configuration of a new building proposed for the site.
Moore said that he had been recently retained by the property’s new owner, and would be meeting with unit owners of the adjacent condominium buildings as well as with the city’s non-profit urban development company, the Ocean City Development Corporation.
“I was not aware that we had not reached out to OCDC,” Moore said.
Plans for the property entailed the demolition of the Hampton House and the construction of a mixed-use condominium building, with two floors of retail units and three and a half levels of residential space. Exemptions to city code requested for the site included a reduction of building setback from 32 feet to 20 feet, which residents of the El Capitan condo, to the south of the site, feared would block their northward view.
Zoning officials and City Council members received a bevy of letters last week, many of which were forwarded to Ocean City Today, objecting to the size, setback, and parking burden of the proposed construction.
Board OKs Boardwalk shop, Bagels & Balls
The board waived parking requirements for Bagels & Balls, a new eatery slated to occupy Boardwalk storefronts beneath the Royalton Hotel on 11th Street.
According to city Zoning Administrator R. Blaine Smith, the 15 customer seats that are slated to be installed will necessitate, by city code, that the facility provide eight parking spaces. However, such spaces would be nearly impossible to obtain within an accessible distance, and may not be necessary given the property’s use.
“Although we are classified as a restaurant, all of our ordering is take-out,” said Bagels & Balls proprietor Mark McConnell. “Our primary business, probably 99 percent of it, is pedestrian traffic on the Boardwalk. There’ll be no waiters; everyone will come to the counter to order.”
As indicated by its name, the restaurant will serve mainly bagels and crab balls. It will occupy what are currently two separate eateries below the Royalton, with a hole being cut in the wall to join the spaces. A walk-in freezer will also be installed.
Due to plumbing code, 15 is the maximum number of seats the restaurant may offer with a single customer toilet. The property has a second bathroom, but that will be located behind the freezer and accessible to employees only.
“Just to be clear, you have no intention of using the other bathroom for the public and expanding the seating,” reiterated board Chairman Alfred Harrison.
The Ocean City Development Corporation also advised the board to require that at least 10 percent of the property’s Boardwalk frontage feature planters, benches, or other public amenities. OCDC also requested that the large, unused sign in front of the property be removed when the eatery is remodeled.
Midtown TCBY granted parking waiver
The board also granted a parking waiver for a TCBY Yogurt franchise, to be established in the 33rd Street Shopping Center.
Under city code, Zoning Administrator R. Blaine Smith said, shopping centers are allowed to have up to 25 percent of their space used as restaurants without incurring the more stringent restaurant parking requirements. Given that the center already has other restaurants, however, the new yogurt franchise would be subject to parking provisions above what it is nominally allotted out of the 54 spaces in the parking lot to the center’s rear.
“If this was the only food and beverage facility [in the shopping center], they would be subjected to the retail parking requirements instead,” Smith said.
However, as with the previous applicant, business owner Wally Salem said that the vast majority of his business is take-out, and seating at his other two locations on 56th and 127th Streets is rarely more than a third full. The 33rd Street location will have 42 inside and 16 outside seats.
Shopping center landlord and Anthony’s Beer and Wine owner John Christ said he did not anticipate his new tenant creating any more of a parking burden than previous tenants.