Dennis Dare

Councilman Dennis Dare this week highlighted the need to protect the resort’s limited stock of commercial properties.

(June 14, 2019) In addition to showing a loss of about $10 million in building permit revenue during 2018 over the prior year, the Ocean City annual development report being submitted to the Maryland Department of Planning also reflects a 200 percent jump in new hotel rooms and a 1,300 percent increase in commercial units demolished last year versus 2017.

Zoning Administrator Frank Hall presented the 2018 annual report, which was approved by the Planning Commission in February, for City Council approval this week before it is forwarded to state officials in Annapolis.

The total value of building permits issued topped $70 million in 2018, which represents a 13 percent drop from the roughly $80.8 million collected in 2017. The total number of permits issued in 2018 was 1,833, down just a tick from the 1,876 recorded in 2017.

Revenues from electrical permits also took a hit, dropping from just over one million in 2017 to roughly $829,000 in 2018.

Councilman Mark Paddack asked about an increase in the number of commercial units demolished, which grew from a handful in 2017 to 71 in 2018.

Hall said the bulk of that increase stemmed from the razing of the Ocean Plaza Mall on 94th Street, while also acknowledging the numbers do represent a change.

“You’re right, there is a loss of commercial,” he said.

Councilman Dennis Dare said the data related to commercial property losses harkens back to a concern he shared late last year with the Planning Commission about restricting residential development from encroaching on commercially zoning areas.

“Pyramid zoning allows for residential to be built on commercial property but we all know that residentially zoned neighborhoods are not going to allow … a commercial enterprise to be built,” he said.

Dare highlighted the need to protect the resort’s limited stock of commercial properties.

“I suggested … Planning and Zoning look at establishing a special exception process to be able to build residential, including hotels, in these commercial areas,” he said.

Regardless of subsequent maneuvers, the council voted 6-0, with Councilwoman Mary Knight absent, to approve the 2018 report and forward it to the Maryland Department of Planning.

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