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Ocean City

Planning & Zoning Briefs 10-18-2013

The Ocean City Planning and Zoning Commission discussed the following items during its October 15, 2013 meeting.

 

Buccaneers’ Caye

The commission approved a revised design for the Buccaneers’ Caye restaurant and tiki bar, to be built in what is now the parking lot on the bayside of South Philadelphia Avenue, directly below Sunset Park.

At last month’s meeting, the commission expressed concern that food delivery and parking would be difficult with only one entrance and exit onto Philadelphia Avenue, and requested that some of the site’s parking spaces be sacrificed to create an additional exit for through-traffic in the lot. However, this loss of required parking meant that the apartments planned for the top floors of the building had to be eliminated.

The 5,284-square foot structure will be triangular, with a long façade running southeast along the line of the bay and the privately-owned boardwalk currently in place there.

However, in a reversal from last meeting, architect Keith Iott told the commission that the developer, John Stamato, was no longer interested in negotiating with the city to make the boardwalk area a public amenity.

“Honestly, if I were running the restaurant, I wouldn’t want it to be a public way either,” said Commissioner Lauren Taylor. “I would want the public there, but I would want it to be under my control.”

“That’s pretty much the developer’s position,” Iott said.

 

58th St. Complex

John Fager, owner of Fager’s Island, presented the commission with plans to redevelop his lot located on the northwest corner of Coastal Highway and 58th Street.

What Fager proposed, and the commission accepted, is a two-story building with a sandwich shop and small retail store on the first floor and a pub on the second.

“It’ll cater to craft beers and things like that,” Fager said.

Indoor space for the retail store is designed at 668 square feet, the sandwich shop at 1,368, and the pub at 376. However, there is also 1,799 square feet of outside dining area, with the majority of the pub being an open deck.

The facility will be served by the existing curb cut on Coastal Highway, as well as by an additional entrance and exit to be built on 58th Street.

 

Building Height

The commission held a public hearing, which was not attended by any members of the public, to consider amending the city’s code for building height to allow for future possible changes in flood mapping.

Building heights in the town are currently measured from the crown of the adjacent road to the top slab of the building’s top floor. However, this does not always allow builders an even amount of space to work with, given the town’s flood situation.

Different areas of the city have different base flood elevations, by the determination of the Federal Emergency Management Agency as to where the high water line during a storm will reach. All structures must be raised to this level, plus an additional amount of “freeboard” space, in order for the town to meet its federal flood insurance rate requirements.

In most areas of the resort, the building height limit is 50 feet, although large lots may build taller under the “height by right” statute.

Instead, the commission is recommending a change whereby height would be measured from base flood elevation, not from the road, giving everyone the same amount of usable space.

“We’re forcing people to fit into 48 or 49 feet or some odd number,” said Commissioner Peck Miller. “It’s common sense to make it 50 feet for everyone and take away the ambiguity.”

City Zoning Administrator R. Blaine Smith also suggested that another clause be added into the change, stating that height be measured from base flood elevation or two feet above the crown of the road, whichever is higher.

This is necessary, Smith noted, because new FEMA flood maps currently being outlined may remove a base flood elevation from some areas. The two foot statute would maintain a certain level of elevation for all buildings, even if the federal government wasn’t requiring it.

Smith also suggested that the commission recommend that the city council pass the change as an emergency ordinance, given that it would affect projects currently being designed.

“They haven’t asked for that, but they would benefit from it,” Smith said.

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