Ocean City Today

Two restaurants planned in West OC

Previous zoning deemed error because many uses prohibited by site location
By Brian Gilliland | May 18, 2017
Zoning map of the area

(May 19, 2017) Because most of the uses allowable by a zoning special exception don’t work for the 2.65-acre parcel sandwiched between Route 611 and Sinepuxent Road in West Ocean City, the land will be rezoned.

Appearing before the Worcester County Commissioners Tuesday, attorney Joe Moore successfully argued the previous zoning for the land, done in 2009, was a mistake and thus grounds for a rezoning.

The change in designation will allow the property to be used as a site for two restaurants, which is the current plan.

When zoning was established in Worcester during the 1960s, the land was zoned for agriculture, but was rezoned into the business district in 1997 where it stayed until the 2009 comprehensive rezoning reclassified it to the A-2 designation. The commissioner, however, agreed to rezone the property for commercial use.

The site is too small and narrow for most agricultural uses, and too close to the runway of the Ocean City airport and its restrictions for any sort of profitable agricultural interest, Moore argued.

In addition, it lies within Ocean City’s navigational easement for the airport, which prohibits other uses such as radio towers or wind turbines.

The county’s planning commission also agreed that a commercial use would better serve the adjacent neighborhoods.

Moore asked that the zoning be returned to the business district classification, which now exists as C-1 commercial neighborhood.

Though early in the process, a proposed site plan features two freestanding buildings, each with its own parking lot, able to house a small eatery of about 2,500 square feet each.

Traffic engineer Betty Tustin said the restaurants would not be significant traffic generators on the roads, and compared them to Sello’s in West Ocean City, which is roughly double the square footage of one of the proposed sites, but is also not seen as a significant traffic generator on Golf Course Road.

Tustin said the most recent traffic data, from 2013-2015, suggests the local roads would remain relatively safe, and that safety could even be improved by squaring off the intersection with airport road by adding a fourth leg to the intersection and providing “right in, right out” access.

That plan, she said, still needs to be ratified by the State Highway Administration.

Nine accidents occurred in the area during the time studied, she said, with five at the intersection with Airport Road and three featuring some kind of driver impairment at the time of the collision.

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