Ocean City Today

Commissioners discuss nuisance properties

Initial conversation about Ocean Pines real estate leads to other complaints
By Brian Gilliland | Jul 06, 2017

(July 7, 2017) While the initial discussion was about declaring a single property north of Ocean Downs a nuisance, the floodgates may have opened as several commissioners took turns listing properties constituents have complained about, possibly opening the door to a new round of enforcement.

The first discussion involved a situation at 10307 Racetrack Road, the former site of the Planted Pleasures Garden Center.

Director of Development Review and Planning Ed Tudor explained to the board that his department has dealt with this property and its owners several times during the past few years, and has, at times, experienced some cooperation from the owners.

Among the county’s complaints are uncontrolled growth of vegetation, unscreened accumulation of personal property and several unattended structures from the former plant nursery that have fallen into disrepair.

The property’s owner, Kevin Evans, said the county has a point, to a certain degree, about the condition of his lot, but there is also a larger issue that is being missed.

Evans said he and other property owners in the area petitioned the county to change the zoning from agricultural to commercial to reflect the changing nature of the neighborhood as business at the casino expanded.

“At first, the racetrack was open regular hours, and now it’s open to 4 a.m. and serving alcohol. At first, they weren’t going to serve food and now they are,” he said.

According to property records, Evans bought the three-acre lot in 2003.

The fallout from these late-night operations takes up what little time Evans said he has to maintain the property.

“I wouldn’t mind if we were zoned commercial, because you sort of expect that in these situations,” he said.

He said he didn’t get a zoning switch from agricultural to commercial — he got a switch from agricultural to residential.

“Who wants to buy a place to live next to one of the biggest businesses in Worcester County?” Evans asked. Evans said he and other owners now feel trapped — unable to move because they are unable to sell their land.

“Are there going to be children riding their bikes down Racetrack Road?” he wondered.

Evans doesn’t live on the property, has a full time job and limited time to address what the county, and area residents, have decided is a nuisance property.

Commissioner Chip Bertino said this property in particular is a frequent topic of discussion at his town hall meetings, which then led to commissioners Joe Mitrecic, Bud Church and Jim Bunting reporting that they all knew of properties they would like to see cleaned up.

Bunting directed Tudor to investigate a property at the corner of Bishopville Road and St. Martin’s Neck Road for possible violations, but no other directives were issued.

Evans has the right to request a hearing before the commissioners or abate the nuisance conditions, but hasn’t decided what he’s going to do yet.

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