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Ocean City

OC Planning Dept. takes over building permits, inspections

(Aug. 2, 2013) Although local property owners and contractors will likely not notice the change, the city’s Building and Construction Inspection division was reorganized under the Planning and Zoning Department this month, at the same time that the city’s annual planning report indicates that only 20 new residential permits were issued for 2012.

The annual report, a state requirement, was presented to City Council this week before submission to the Maryland Department of Planning. This year was the first in which the report’s format was standardized into a yes-or-no rubric, much like a tax return.

The gist of the process, according to City Planning and Community Development Director Matt Margotta, is allow the state to know what a given jurisdiction’s capacity is for future build-out. This growth, and remaining capacity, is typically measured by the number of new residential projects introduced, which was only 20 in the resort last year.

“If there’s an expansion of residential units in a jurisdiction, the thought is that that’ going to have an impact on your commercial expansion as well,” Margotta said.

These figures then help determine how much public investment will have to be made in the future to allow for growth.

“If we color outside the lines, do they [the state] still know what’s going on and what we need?” Margotta said.

At the same time the city’s Planning and Zoning Department is working on this analysis, it will also be assuming control of the city’s building permitting and inspection system, which was previously a sub-division of the town’s Engineering Department.

“My predecessor, Jesse Houston, had the building and planning and code enforcement guys all within his department before,” Margotta said. “At some point it was decided to have the building department move over to engineering.”

Although the city’s engineering staff provide the technical basis for what the building division enforces, Margotta noted that much of what building inspectors do is linked in with the enforcement of property and zoning codes, which are handled by his department.

“This is kind of the natural evolution of the organization,” Margotta said. “There are things that we do similarly, in terms of looking at the code and enforcing the code. It’s different books, but it’s all kind of the same stuff in terms of application.”

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