The Ocean City mayor and City Council held its regularly scheduled work session on Sept. 14 and discussed the following items:
Councilman Tony DeLuca and City Manager Doug Miller opened bids for a project to recoat the steel sheet piles along the sea wall under the Boardwalk.
The city budgeted $1.8 million to have the work completed and received two bids: One for $4.2 million and another, from ProCoat LLC in Salisbury for $1.4 million.
The request for proposals calls for the work to be split into two phases, with the first phase taking place between 27th and 15th streets, and the second between 15th and fourth streets.
The work includes excavating material on both the seaside and Boardwalk side of the seawall, removing the existing sheet pile coating, recoating the sheet piles, and backfilling the wall with the excavated material.
The council briefly discussed an ordinance change on Monday to increase the lowest floor elevation for new construction or substantially improved residential structures in downtown Ocean City.
City Director of Planning and Development Bill Neville told council members that to maintain the resort's flood insurance rating, the city must adopt and enforce at least one foot of freeboard elevation for residential buildings in special flood hazard areas.
The topic has gone back and forth between the Coastal Resources Legislative Committee and the City Council.
Previously, the downtown section of town was exempt from freeboard elevation requirements, but in 2018, new standards were put in place that removed that exemption.
The council may eventually look to raise the one-foot requirement even more, raising concerns from Councilman Peter Buas, who asked what it would mean to housing height restrictions.
He asked Neville if a homeowner would get five feet on top of the house if they added a five-foot freeboard at the base.
Neville said he was not sure, but it could be something to look at in the future. But to meet FEMA standards now, a new ordinance needed to be passed for the one-foot freeboard.
Several commercial businesses are downtown, so the council advised Neville to include them in the minimum requirement as part of the ordinance.
Miller told council that the city was able to strike a deal with the Lower Shore Land Trust to purchase two parcels in West Ocean City for $850,000, to protect the runways at the municipal airport.
The money, he said, will initially come from the city’s fund balance and 95 percent will be reimbursed by the Federal Aviation Authority.
When the budget was approved in May, a full-time and a part-time position were expected to be filled in the planning department to help lessen the burden of work the department was faced with.
Meehan said he was concerned the role was never filled because the intent was to hire the full-time position before passing the budget. He also questioned why the part-time summer field inspector position was never filled for the 18-week period
Miller could not answer why the positions were not filled, but he said he is down to the finalists for the full-time position.