Ocean City Today
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County clears way for expansion to Diakonia shelter

Mixed-use development to offer living and office space
By Brian Gilliland | Jun 22, 2017
Photo by: Josh Davis

(June 23, 2017) Following up on a request made in early 2016, the Worcester County Commissioners approved changes to the C-2 Commercial district to allow local shelter Diakonia to expand onto a lot along Route 611 so it will have more living, office and retail space.

The goal is to build a facility that would offer 50 housing units, general office and meeting space and a spot to relocate the Used to Be Mine thrift store, now on Sunset Ave. in West Ocean City, onto a single campus.

“There’s way more need than we can provide help,” Allyson Bernard-Church, president of the board of directors of Diakonia said.

Bernard-Church said the nonprofit received 200 calls each month for services, and Diakonia has turned down many of these requests for lack of space.

The C-2 commercial district now allows for dwellings, or dwelling units, which have at least 500 gross feet of living space but are not tents, cabins, trailers or other such related housing units.

These units are allowed as parts of a “supported living facility,” which is, by code, a facility provided by a nonprofit religious, educational or philanthropic organization or public agency to needy persons for an extended period of time. The facility may also offer meals, counseling and other services, plus common areas for the residents.

The dwelling units may have individual or common bathrooms and kitchen facilities.

The lot areas supporting the units are about half an acre each with a maximum of 12 units per acre.

The minimum parking requirements for the new designation is half a space per living unit, plus one unit for every two staff.

Development review and Permitting Director Ed Tudor said the new zoning designation involved a great deal of work and staff time during the course of its development.

Bernard-Church is married to Commissioner Bud Church, who recused himself from the vote, which passed 6-0. The zoning change becomes effective in 45 days.

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