OCEAN CITY – The decision on a building permit extension for a downtown property was postponed this week, due to dissatisfaction from the Mayor and Council over the vacant lots.
Bob Warfield, owner of the 1111 Edgewater Ave. property, came before the Mayor and Council two weeks ago in an effort to obtain an extension on the building permit for the project. Warfield explained that with the current status of the real estate market, continuing with the 18-unit condominium project would be a financial disaster. He requested an extension to allow time for the market to catch up.
After reviewing the situation, the City Council agreed to grant the extension under the conditions that the two lots be cleaned up and made more aesthetically pleasing.
The lot neighboring the bay currently has several concrete blocks with rebar sticking out of the tops. The lot across the street is piled with dirt and stone. The council felt that leaving the lots as is for up to a year would not be fair to neighboring properties and requested that both lots be improved significantly in exchange for a building permit extension.
At Monday night’s regular session of the Mayor and Council, David Quillin, architect for the project, presented the Mayor and Council with two ideas for cleaning up the area.
Quillin suggested that the rebar sticking out of the columns be painted a neutral blue or gray color. Quillin explained that the rebar, which is one of the offending items on the lot, would be more aesthetically pleasing if it blended in with the sky.
“On some days, I think this would be a more effective strategy than others,” he said.
Quillin also suggested that a wood encasing be built along the tops of the columns to hide the rebar, but several council members agreed that would only make the eye sore worse.
“It still isn’t solving the problem,” said Councilwoman Margaret Pillas, voicing disappointment over the clean-up effort.
Pillas pointed out that the council had requested fencing at the last meeting to better hide the columns. Pillas also questioned how difficult it would be to remove the columns and the rebar.
“It’s possible to cut them off…but it would be a very expensive proposition to do that,” Quillin said.
Councilman Jay Hancock expressed concern over the initial decision to grant an extension and the future ramifications.
“I’m just not happy with what we’ve done,” said Hancock. “People have made bad business decisions and now they’re asking the town to bear the brunt of those bad business decisions.”
Hancock maintained the town should be receiving concessions for granting the extensions.
Quillin, who is a member of the Ocean City Development Corporation, defended the project, pointing out that efforts had been made to make the building a better fit for the downtown area. Quillin also noted that he was still fighting to maintain the green aspects of the building that were originally proposed.
Both Quillin and Hancock expressed concerns over having eight- to nine-foot fencing surrounding the lot, pointing out that it would be creating a place for increased crime and an area for people to hide.
Councilwoman Mary Knight requested that the lot across the street be leveled out, pointing out that fencing would not be required around that lot.
The council agreed to postpone its decision until a stronger proposal is presented. The council advised Quillin to return with a proposal involving fencing and repainting of the rebar. Quillin agreed to return with both a new proposal and project owner Bob Warfield.