OC's Somerset Street Changes Clear First Hurdle
OCEAN CITY - Less then a month after the Ocean City Development Corporation (OCDC) approached the Mayor and City Council with its new recommendations for the Somerset Street Plaza, it has succeeded in getting all of them approved on their first formal readings.
The recommendations first surfaced during a work session back on Feb. 27 and were tabled for further discussion since there were quite a bit of regulations to be looked at. They resurfaced again last week on March 13 and became the source of a lot of discussion between city officials, ultimately ending with motions supporting all of OCDC's recommendations.
First up this week was the resolution to amend Chapter 62 of the City Code concerning commerce taking place on Somerset Street. Originally, the code prohibited peddlers and solicitors from taking part in currency exchanges on the Boardwalk and Somerset Street, but was changed to allow the Segway rental company EC Glider and certain retail carts in the plaza to be able to conduct their business outside.
According to OCDC, the plan will help vendors on the street to see if there is a market for their merchandise. Should the area be profitable, OCDC hopes the vendors would move to a more permanent location such as Somerset Street itself and rent a building out for further business expansion.
The next resolution voted on was one to allow use of the public right of way on the plaza for the display of rental bikes, the display of Segways and a training ground, and five retail carts. As part of the condition, the use of the right of way will cost rental displays $750 a year per business and retail carts $1,500 per cart.
As OCDC Executive Director Glenn Irwin said last week, the money will go back toward Somerset Street for future improvements since its hope is that the street can become self-sufficient in the future.
Both of the resolutions passed in a 5-1 vote, with Councilwoman Margaret Pillas against both and Council Secretary Nancy Howard absent.
The last resolution voted on dealt with the riding of bicycles and Segways along Somerset Street, something that was prohibited in the past. The resolution would reverse that and make it so bikes and Segways would only be prohibited between 10 a.m.-2 a.m., the same rule that applies for the Boardwalk.
'We have looked at the bike and Segways as a morning activity use to bring energy to the street especially in the off season,' Irwin said last week.Although previous discussions by the council dealt with their concerns on bicycle safety in the area, future talks will look to alleviate the problem by concentrating on the controversial banana bikes. The resolution was then passed by an unanimous vote.