OCEAN PINES — It’s been a long road but a new Ocean Pines Yacht Club has finally received site plan approval by the Worcester County Planning Commission.
The project suffered delays last month when the commission initially refused to lower parking requirements for the proposed facility, which was short 62 spaces as judged by the county code. Following the denial, the Ocean Pines Administration (OPA) eventually won an administrative adjustment hearing that allowed them to alter parking space sizes to better fall in line with county standards.
“The parking was tweaked,” said attorney Joe Moore, who represented the OPA.
Moore informed the commission the OPA was granted permission to change the size of some parking spaces and other “tweaks” that dropped the original 20 percent parking deficiency down to 10.9 percent, which was then waived after the hearing.
But even with parking, the highest hurtle in the development of the new facility overcome, the commission still displayed hesitation in approving the site plan, which required additional waivers to things like landscaping and lighting.
“I think that it’s missing something,” said Commissioner Wayne Hartman after reviewing the plan.
Hartman called the site “barren,” especially in regards to landscaping and vegetation. Commissioner Costen Gladding held a similar view, saying that the club “looks like a school building” in its current format.
“It’s very plain,” he said. “Just looking at the front of it, it just looks plain.”
Moore was quick to assure the commission that the OPA plans on livening up the design once the club is built.
“It won’t be bare of landscaping,” he said.
OPA General Manager Bob Thompson explained that large clay pots filled with vegetation will take the place of the more traditional and permanent landscaping that the county usually seeks.
“We can then use the space more efficiently,” he said.
Hartman admitted any kind of break in the walls along the club would be “attractive.” Several on the board seemed less than enthusiastic about the use of potted plants in lieu of landscaping, but Thompson pointed out members were starting to approach personal opinion.
“You’re looking at aesthetics,” he said.
The commission voted to waive the requirements and allow the use of potted plants as landscaping. It also waived codes involving human level lighting, which is not often found in Ocean Pines, and a few other minor regulations. The commissioners then voted unanimously to approve the site plan.