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(Feb. 19, 2021) The Worcester County Commissioners approved purchasing a new 911-dispatch server, a zoning map amendment and a conditional use permit for the South Point boat ramp during its meeting on Tuesday.

Server purchase

Director of IT Brian Jones presented a request to purchase two new 911-dispatch servers to replace nearly outdated models currently in use. 

“These two servers have reached their end of useable life,” he said.

Jones said hardware upgrades are required for a pair of 911-CAD (computer-aided dispatch) servers, which are also employed by the Worcester County Sheriff’s Office and Worcester County Jail.

Jones presented three price quotes for server options, including: Dell at $177,695; Hewlett Packard at $187,976; and Stratus at $304,691.

“We currently have the Stratus but I would recommend the HP,” he said.

Commissioner Chip Bertino asked if Dell would be a stronger choice based on the roughly $10,000 price difference.

Jones said the county has at some point used all three server manufacturers and found HP to be highly reliable.

The commissioners voted unanimously to approve the HP server purchase.

Zoning map amendment

The commissioners approved a rezoning request for an acre of property on the north side of Route 50 just east of Route 707.

Attorney Hugh Cropper, representing property owners COF Investment Group, said the parcel in question totals just over an acre on a five-plus acre tract.

“COF owns almost 5.5 acres,” he said.

At present 1.2 acres of the property is zoned under two categories — one acre in R-2 suburban residential and 0.2 acres in the resource protection district, while the remaining majority is classified as C-2 commercial.

Cropper said the requested rezoning would amend the entire five-plus acres as C-2 commercial.

Cropper attributed the small area designated as a resource protection district to its proximity to a Herring Creek tributary and an earlier mapping miscue.

At present the resource protection zone bisects the property in two pieces, Cropper said.

The Worcester Planning Commission gave the request a favorable recommendation in early December.

The parcel is along Route 50 and located almost entirely in a commercial land use category within the comprehensive plan.

The commissioners voted unanimously to approve the Planning Commissions findings of fact and approve the rezoning request.

South Point boat ramp

The commissioners voted 6-1, with Jim Bunting opposed, to approve a one-year conditional-use permit for Dusk to Dawn Fishing Charters to launch and retrieve from the South Point boat ramp.

Capt. Mark Spagnola, who operates the bow fishing charter business, was denied a special use permit for the same purpose in July 2019.

This go-round, Spagnola retained the services of attorney Mark Cropper who argued the merits of permitting what is in practice an allowable use.

Cropper said after researching the matter it became apparent Spagnola’s desired access is not discernible from many other forms of recreational use, except that he is compensated financially.

“As long as nobody gives him a dollar at the end of the day it’s perfectly legal,” he said.

Cropper said his client makes use of the South Point boat ramp for both recreational fishing and commercial ventures.

“Marine contractors currently use the ramp regularly as a staging area,” he said. “They have to stage somewhere.”

Cropper also noted the boat ramp often plays host to crabbers and oystermen.

Commissioner Bud Church, while voicing no objection to the specific request, asked if approval would set a precedent for future use.

Cropper said each request should be vetted separately in regards to community impact.

“You have to judge each one independently,” he said.

Bunting expressed hesitation about granting commercial access to municipal boat ramps.

“We’ve worked hard to keep our boat ramps for public and recreational use,” he said. “If you open that door a little bit other people will join in.”

Bunting suggested a size-limit should be considered as part of the requested use.

“We need to get control of our public boat ramps,” he said.

Bunting said the county should develop a permit program to differentiate between local and out-of-state users.

“Unless you tighten up this wording on the special use permit I’m not going to be able to support you,” he said.

In light of the variables noted, Church made a motion to grant a one-year conditional use permit to ascertain any negative ramifications.

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