Ocean City Today

Comp. plan should protect communities

Readers' Forum
Nov 02, 2017



printed 11/03/2017



The pending Ocean City Comprehensive Plan seems to have upset the real estate industry’s plans to further expand their rental operations into R1 neighborhoods. The most odious obstacles to their ambitions seem to be the goals and recommendations listed below.

Goal: “To identify single family areas with a high percentage of resident owners who may support the proposed R-1A district with limitations on short term seasonal rental use.”

Recommendation: “Existing single family neighborhoods should be protected from development influences, and changing short term residential rental techniques that could degrade their quality of life.”

Who would have thought that so positive a goal, so well received by so many in Ocean City, would cause so much worry for so many real estate salesmen from as far away as California, Salisbury, Berlin and beyond?

Motivated by a different vision, two salesmen with Wall Street giant Coldwell Banker, Chris Mitchell from California and Don Bailey from Salisbury, expressed their worry before the Ocean City Planning Commission that to include such radical language in their recommendations would have negative effects on property values in R1 neighborhoods.

Mr. Bailey assured the board and public that rental properties in R1 areas do not reduce the value of adjoining homes. On the contrary, he says, the neighborhood would suffer more if investors lost the opportunity to develop weekly rentals there. This seemed counterintuitive to a simple non-professional such as myself, so I resolved to construct an easy thought exercise to resolve the validity of Mr. Bailey’s assertion.

Imagine two identical homes for sale in the same neighborhood, their condition and amenities are exactly the same. House number one has owner occupied homes on either side and house number two has weekly renters on both sides. Now think real hard ... which one would you buy?

My own conclusion leads me to agree with Stewart Dobson’s editorial comments on the subject, that the people who should be most worried about this issue are the resident homeowners whose preferred living arrangements could be sacrificed for the benefit of the real estate industry.

Conversations with neighbors and friends in the small downtown R1 districts have become cynical, suggesting that this is just another blatant attempt to increase profits by expanding their rental portfolios into areas where they are most unwelcome.

A majority of the pejoratives heard in these conversations are unprintable, but “greedy” and “outrageous” were quite common. One can only hope that when, or if, our political elite is forced to make an actual decision on this subject, they will ignore the self-serving and disingenuous comments of the real estate industry and protect the existing sense of community that has evolved in these neighborhoods over years and generations. Preferably, they will heed the excellent advice of OC Planning Commissioner, Palmer Gillis.

“We’ve talked about this for a long time, and the multiple rentals of transients detract from these minute year-round neighborhoods. After listening to neighbors come in and ask for it, I don’t see how we can deny it.”

Paul Morris

Ocean City

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