As plans for a massive Margaritaville resort take shape along 13th and 14th streets in Ocean City, several nearby condominium owners are not so happy about their potential new neighbor.
In recent weeks, condominium owners within the Sea Mist community along the west side of Baltimore Avenue directly across from the former Phillips Beach Plaza hotel — where the new project is slated for construction — have been asking city officials to reconsider the plans.
“Our community is very concerned with the magnitude of this project and what negative impacts a project of this size will have on the surrounding communities and negative impact on this Boardwalk region of Ocean City,” Sea Mist unit owner Ross Rappaport said in a Nov. 15 email to the mayor, council members and planning officials. “It simply doesn’t fit.”
He went on to list 12 concerns, ranging from nighttime light and daytime shadow pollution to parking and traffic worries. He added that the potential party aspect of the resort’s brand could detrimentally affect the nighttime atmosphere on the Boardwalk, which it will border. He also said the height of the slated 13-story building, which will include hotel, retail and event space, will “dwarf” the buildings around it.
“Margaritaville’s size and intent of use, negatively and dramatically changes this part of Ocean City,” Rappaport said in the email. “We understand there are other proposed developments that better fit the use of this site, please pick one of those proposals for the sake of Ocean City and the surrounding areas. If Margaritaville wants to be in Ocean City, they should find a site appropriate for the intended use, not downtown in the historic district of this great vacation town.”
Jessica Waters, the city’s communications and marketing director, said in an email that city officials received “a handful” of emails from Sea Mist condo owners expressing concerns about the project. She also said the Margaritaville proposal was the only application that was received for the site.
Sea Mist owners Lisa and Bill Rinaca referenced and piggybacked on Rappaport’s comments in another email.
“Please consider the scope of work in the space size that is being proposed,” the Rinacas’ email said. “The sheer traffic that will begin with construction will only intensify if this project goes through. Baltimore Avenue will become like Ocean Highway, not the road that leads to our homes and hotels.”
Gary and Diana Cole, and Robert L. Moore, two other Sea Mist owners, also copied and sent Rappaport’s email to protest the project.
Another owner, Kevin Moore, spoke during a board of zoning appeals meeting about the project. He said that he appreciated the developers meeting with the condo owners, sharing their plans and addressing some of their concerns. However he said some still exist, mostly about parking and traffic.
He also has worries about the “change in climate” from a family-oriented vacation spot to one where people come to blow off steam and party.
“I feel as though a resort with this pricing structure will be beyond the reach of the core clientele that has sustained the growth and popularity of Ocean City since its beginning,” Moore’s email said. “I hope this developer succeeds in finding a site to build this project somewhere in the Ocean City area, I just don’t think the proposed location is in keeping with the stated objective to retain the ‘family friendly’ appeal of the downtown region, and the Boardwalk in particular.”
The project’s plans have been presented to planning commissioners as part of an application for a planned overlay district, or POD, a zoning designation that allows for “unified development.”
Planning commissioners discussed conditions for the POD Tuesday and will meet again after council members discuss abandonment of a city-owned alley to finalize details for a recommendation.