ZACK HOOPES ¦ Staff Writer
(Nov. 30, 2012) The Ocean City Planning and Zoning Commission discussed the following items at its Nov. 20 session:
Redevelopment approved at downtown Fat Daddy’s
The commission approved — on the condition that fully revised drawings are submitted at a later date — a revised building proposal for the redevelopment of the northwest corner of Dorchester Street and Baltimore Avenue. The location houses, in part, Fat Daddy’s restaurant and is owned by Fat Daddy’s owners Ed and Lisa Braude.
The commission had previously objected to the flat-sided, flat-roofed design that “had somewhat of a Western theme to it,” Zoning Administrator R. Blaine Smith recalled. “The problem was that it was all flush going down the street.”
The revised design feature pilasters to separate the two middle sections of the building, as well as a recessed entrance for the retail store in the northern section, giving the appearance of more traditional streetscape. The southern, corner section of the building will house Fat Daddy’s eating space, and will have a peaked roof that extends above the flat top of the rest of the building, breaking up the roofline.
The Braudes are working with the Ocean City Development Corporation to secure state funding for the demolition of the current building, whose upper floors have been condemned. Approval of the plans for the new structure will allow them to secure more funding for construction.
OCDC Executive Director Glenn Irwin said the project is ideal from an urban redevelopment standpoint.
“They’re talking about affordable employee housing on the upper floors, which the state loves,” Irwin said. “And the restaurant is on the corner, which is where you want restaurants.”
Mini golf considered at downtown property
The commission considered adding miniature golf as a conditional use for the downtown zoning overlay district, after Old Pro Golf has expressed an interest in redeveloping the former Trimper’s Tank Battle amusement site into a course.
The currently vacant site is located on the west side of Baltimore Avenue, between South Division and South First Streets, but “Old Pro Golf has an interest in building a mini golf course with a nautical theme [on the lot]” said Zoning Administrator R. Blaine Smith.
However, Smith said, the additional downtown district zoning requirements, introduced in 2002, eliminated the possibility of conditional uses. Conditional uses are those uses which, while permitted in a given district, may produce adverse affects for the neighborhood and thus must be cleared by the Planning and Zoning Commission and City Council before going into operation.
Adding the option back in would require a public hearing and review of the whole district, Smith said.
“Even though we know the Tank Battle project is the goal, once you put it in the DMX [zoning code for the downtown district], we have to evaluate the whole district,” Smith said.
Of potential concern to the commission was the fact that the proposed course would be ad- jacent to the historic Henry Hotel.
“It is somewhat buffered from the residential zone … they will have a substantial buffer where the mini golf course won’t come up against that property,” Smith said.
The commission moved to hold a public hearing on the issue.
Parking clarified for mixed-use projects
Although no concerned citizens appeared, the commission held the requisite public hearing for an ordinance that will clarify how parking requirements are calculated for mixed-use projects.
“The purpose of putting the new language in the code is to clarify,” Zoning Administrator R. Blaine Smith said. “Under the current code, and for the past 27 years, I have interpreted the code in this way.”
However, codifying the procedure has become necessary since the city was recently challenged on its approval of a recent site plan on the grounds that it’s parking requirements were underestimated, Smith said.
The city’s code requires different amounts of parking for different size locations, based on those locations’ uses. A minimum of five spaces also exists for most small retail and eating establishments. In the case of mixed uses, where a small store will be in the same building as, and sharing parking with, a larger establishment, Smith said it has always been his interpretation that the minimum does not apply to each use when adding the total number of parking spaces that the site needs for all of its uses.
Smith also said that it has been his practice to round up fractional space calculations to the next highest whole number only after all uses have been added.
“We have been challenged by somebody that you round up every time [for every use], or that you apply the minimum to each use,” Smith said. “He’s trying to tell me I have to inflict five spaces on a small area, when the project [as a total] has enough.”
“So this is really just for mixed use, and you’re redefining it the way we’ve already been doing it,” Commissioner Peck Miller said.