OCEAN CITY – Delmarva Power and Light Utility Company (DP&L) is looking to increase its level of service by expanding the north Ocean City substation.
The Planning and Zoning Commission held a public hearing Tuesday to consider amending a code to include public utilities and public services, not otherwise regulated by the Maryland Public Service Commission, including buildings, treatment plants, pumping or regulator stations, substations, and transmission lines, but not including distribution and collection systems and essential services.
Zoning Administrator Blaine Smith explained the zoning code concerning residential districts begins with R-1, or single-family residents, and next comes R-2A, which are low density residential districts.
“Those two zoning classifications are not allowed to have substations or water treatment plants,” he said.
However, the Gorman Water Treatment Plant is located from 136th to 137th streets and its neighboring property is the DP&L electric substation.
DP&L’s move to expand the substation has surfaced the non-conforming code. The substation is located in an R-1 district but the area of expansion is considered R-2A.
“We are trying to legalize what already exists,” Smith said.
He explained it will take a legal procedure process for DP&L to gain a conditional use permit. The amendment will allow DP&L to apply for expansion and provide the public an opportunity for voices to be heard on the matter through a public hearing.
“I know the Mayor and City Council is going to want to safeguard the other residents that are in this neighborhood once we expand this plan,” Smith said. “DP&L will have to show they can be a good neighbor with the expansion.”
According to Smith, there are four houses sitting where the substation will have to expand. DP&L have been in contact with the property owners and they have agreed to sell to the company at the houses’ appraisal price. He added that the homes are only 10-12 years old and could go to settlement within the next six weeks.
“They have to put new equipment in to upgrade the capacity of that substation to avoid blackouts … and the high demand of electricity but they need that additional space to build it,” he said.
The DP&L station located between 137th and 138th streets is the only utility station facing an amendment in the town code to allow for expansion. All other utility stations are located in the proper districts.
“We are not trying to make any changes to the R-1 district,” Smith said. “It is non-conforming as well but … it has been exhausted.”
The commission unanimously agreed to send a favorable recommendation to the City Council to approve the amendment. There were no public speakers at the hearing.