Ocean City Today

County starts evaluating ‘nuisance’ properties

Two owners given 60 days to make improvements or face sanctions by board
By Brian Gilliland | Sep 07, 2017

(Sept. 8, 2017) The Worcester County Commissioners held two nuisance abatement hearings Tuesday, and in disputing a property owner’s claim of a “hidden agenda,” the board hinted that more such hearings could be in the works soon.

Commissioner Joe Mitrecic, representing Ocean City, said he is looking at three properties in his district for violations. Commissioner Bud Church, representing West Ocean City south of Route 50, said he also had a couple with which he is concerned, while Commissioner Jim Bunting told the property owner, Kevin Evans, that there was another hearing scheduled for later that day.

Evans said a number of factors are affecting his ability to maintain his property across from Ocean Downs, and not all of them are within his control. The lot, he said, is zoned residential, and the valuation has dropped precipitously as the commercial center has gained popularity.

“Ocean Pines, Berlin, Ocean City and even Pocomoke have argued they were impacted by the casino, but no one thought about the neighborhood next to the commercial center,” he said.

Ed Tudor, director of planning review and development, said the lot was zoned E-1 estate, which does allow some limited commercial enterprise, explaining the garden center the site features.

Evans said he had pursued rezoning, but was told by his attorney he needed a full traffic study to support his case. Tudor said a traffic study was never required nor asked for as part of rezoning this property.

Because the residential value is limited, Evans said his ability to borrow to finance major repairs is similarly affected.

“No one in their right mind would use this as a residential use. Would any family buy? Would you tell your kids to ride their bikes on Racetrack Road,” he asked.

Church said he always believed that lot should be zoned commercial, and explained to Evans that he hadn’t been singled out, but that the county responds to complaints. He said the property’s visibility probably generated the call that eventually led to the hearing.

When asked how long he might need to get the property into shape, Evans said it would take him two months, to which the board agreed.

Later the county evaluated the case against Willie Church of Pocomoke City, and found he had made significant progress since the first complaint was lodged. Church also asked the commissioners for more time to complete his cleanup, as he is 82 years old and the summer weather is affecting his ability to work on the property.

Church said he collected the items on his land to sell so he could afford a hip replacement for himself and a knee replacement for his wife.

The commissioners agreed, noting Church had made more progress than Evans had, and gave him until Nov. 5 to get his property in order.

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