Letter to the Editor

printed 07/02/2021

Editor,

I want to say thank you to our “exceptional” Ocean City Planning and Zoning (P&Z) Commission. What is exceptional about them, you ask? In my opinion, it is the commission members’ ability to make building code “exceptions” for virtually every project submitted to them and provide very little in the way of protecting the quality of life for their already established residents.

The P&Z Commission has just allowed nearly 100 new residences, consisting of three new projects, to be built at the top of the Caine Woods neighborhood. Fifty-nine new townhomes, 36 new condos and a duplex.

They have added a whole new neighborhood on top of an already established neighborhood. Think about it — 400 to 600-plus new residents encroaching on the neighborhood and local area, all at once.

And here are some of the “exceptions” that were allowed by the P&Z Commission — exceptions to required number of onsite parking spaces; exceptions to required setbacks; exceptions to required sidewalk sizing; and exceptions to required driveway approaches. I could go on, but you get the point.

Notably, the P&Z Commission gave up 29 required onsite parking spaces for these residences to be built. It’s bad enough the neighborhood streets get beach-goers parking on them in the summer.

Now they will have to contend with beach-goers and residents parking on the neighborhood streets. By the way, does the P&Z Commission really believe the new residents of the condos are going to park in a remote lot when they can park on the street in front of their residences? Come on, stop fooling yourselves.

At least stop trying to fool us.

I can somewhat understand how this all happens. The almighty tax dollar reigns supreme. It seems the P&Z Commission’s mindset is more money, more money, more money and do not offend the builder’s pockets that provide it. But what about the people that already live here?

It appears the P&Z Commission is trying to turn North Ocean City (NOC) into South Ocean City (SOC). If you live here (or visit here often), you know what that means.

NOC is relaxed and laid back to SOC’s exuberance and bustle; NOC is roomy and breathable to SOC’s congestion and asphyxia; NOC is calming and peaceful to SOC’s fervor and intensity. Neither area is necessarily wrong or bad, but the twain should never meet! Or be engulfed.

In the “no comments from the public” meeting, the P&Z Board not only gave little credence to their own tangible codes, supposedly designed to protect the established residents, but they ignored other intangible issues as well.

For example, Caine Woods already has issues with speeders cutting over to Route 54, particularly on 141st and 142nd streets. OCPD has been trying to deal with it for years, to little avail. With no planning, hundreds of additional cars will now be utilizing both these streets.

And to top it off, there is only one cross street (142nd) that allows you to go north on Coastal Highway between 140th Street and 145th Street, the area where these residences are being built. The streets of Caine Woods and Sinepuxent Avenue, the parallel back street to Coastal Highway, are now going to be overwhelmed with traffic.

And, if there is only one cross street where these residences are being built, where do you believe the residents are going to cross Coastal Highway to get to the beach? That’s right. In the middle of the blocks.

Now it will be overcrowded and dangerous for both the pedestrians and traffic in that area. I could go on with more tangibles and intangibles, but again, you get the point.

So let’s see. Heavy traffic, speeders, congestion, lack of parking, jaywalkers, accidents, crowded beaches — I’d say you’re on your way, P&Z Commission, to changing North Ocean City into South Ocean City. I guess this is where my original thank-you in the first sentence comes into play.

Rich Martin

Caine Woods

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