(April 19, 2019) Development plans for a 66th Street water treatment plant continue to take shape with short-term lease details finalized for the former World Gym property on 67th Street and a proposed land swap in the works with next-door neighbor Advanced Marina.
Public Works Director Hal Adkins said the years-long effort to acquire parcels between 65th-67th streets has involved negotiations with numerous property owners.
“When you look at the entire block of land at 66th and 67th Streets, and you look at the different parcels’ ownership, it has been like assembling a puzzle,” he said.
Last week, Ocean City Council announced lease terms had been reached with owners at the former World Gym property, currently operated as the 67th Street Gym, which will allow the health club to operate there through the end of the year.
Adkins said plans call for an adjacent metal storage building to be demolished and replaced by mid-May with a parking lot.
“We are to create a parking lot there of gravel for 10 parking places, which will be exclusive to them and they will be renting from the mayor and City Council,” he said.
Speaking last week, Adkins said a pre-bid meeting is set for this Tuesday, with a notice to proceed anticipated on May 2, while also noting the 67th Street Gym lease terms expire on Dec. 31.
“It will be discussed at the pre-bid meeting that the second facility will be demolished with a notice to proceed on or about Jan. 2 2020,” he said.
With the gym issue resolved, Adkins said the next parcel being secured, albeit in a different manner, belongs to Advanced Marina, which occupies land in the first block bayside between 66th and 67th streets.
“All the way on the west end of the entire block of land is Advanced Marina,” he said.
During a work session last Tuesday, Ocean City Council President Lloyd Martin disclosed that during a closed session in March a land swap was approved with the Wenzlaff family, who own Advanced Marina.
As part of the land exchange, Advanced Marina would receive the city-owned adjacent parcel at 118 66th Street.
Adkins said before the proposal can proceed, the city property, which is currently zoned LC-1 (Local Commercial) with a PG-1 (Public/Governmental Overlay Zone), would need to be reclassified as BMUD (Bayside Mixed Use) without an overlay.
Ocean City Planning and Zoning had a hearing scheduled for this Tuesday to examine the request.
“Their current property where their business is on the water is BMUD,” he said. “The mayor and City Council are going to the Planning Commission next week on their behalf to request the zoning be provided to this new assembled piece of land.”
Adkins said an additional hearing before the Board of Zoning Appeals is scheduled for April 25 to consider a reduction of the mandated 10-foot yard setback to five feet.
“That allows them to develop the property the way they want with the boat rack configuration,” he said. “They end up with one big bloc and I end up with one big block. Adkins said Zoning Appeals granted Advanced Marina a similar exception for its current operation in 2014.
“The side yard setback, the only impact it would have is [on] the neighbor, and we are the neighbor,” he said.
Adkins said, contingent on zoning revisions, the new location would prove advantageous for Advanced Marina, which would have the ability to expand skyward.
“By doing the land swap, it’s going to allow them the ability to go vertical with storage, which, in and of itself, increases the capacity to serve clients,” he said.
Looking forward, Adkins said the final parcel necessary is currently leased by Sandpiper Energy and contains above-ground propane tanks.
“The last piece of the overall puzzle necessary to assemble the land to build the water treatment plant would be acquiring the Sandpiper Energy property at 67th Street,” he said.
Adkins said once Sandpiper wraps up work to convert its underground delivery network from propane to natural gas, terms are included in the 2007 franchise agreement to grant the city first dibs on the land.
“Which is in the code book that we have first right of refusal to buy it from them when they finish converting the island,” he said.