Wednesday, April 11 - Downtown Tour Boat Operation Eyed For Old BJ's Site
OCEAN CITY - With only one more hurdle to clear before being able to obtain a business license, Captain Jason C. Lennox came before the Mayor and City Council Tuesday during a work session to seek approval for the last aspect of his new business endeavor.
Lennox is planning to try out a seasonal tour boat operation on the site where the BJ's establishment once was. Although the Planning and Zoning Commission approved a condominium complex back in April of 2005, a building permit was not obtained within the required 18 months of approval, leaving the property bare since.
To temporarily use part of the property until Oct. 15, officials required Lennox to clean up his portion of the leased property, which has collected trash and become an eye sore to some in its idle state, and to provide parking and proper signage in accordance to downtown guidelines and approval by Executive Director of the Ocean City Development Corporation (OCDC), Glenn Irwin.
Also required is a bathroom facility for employees, something that would have to be temporary since Lennox is only seeking approval to operate until October.
Having met all the other requirements, Lennox was back to present his plan for having two portable toilets that would be fenced in and landscaped in order to make them more presentable.
'It's been the practice of the Mayor and City Council not to encourage temporary toilets normally with these water sport type operations,' Zoning Administrator Blaine Smith explained. 'You've asked they have full facilities.'
However, Lennox pointed out that he is only looking to operate for one season and that permanent facilities wouldn't be practical due to the times he is limited to operate.
Councilman Jim Hall spoke up first, expressing his disapproval with the idea.
'Not to dash your dreams but I don't want to have exposed port-o-toilets downtown,' he said. 'I know you are only asking for one year but I don't foresee a major building being there in the next two or three years.'
Lennox responded by saying he does plan on cleaning up his portion of the lot and emphasized the fencing and landscaping would offset any unattractiveness the toilets may cause.
Council Secretary Nancy Howard agreed with Hall and said she would like to see something a little more substantial than what was proposed.
'I know that they have port-o-potty trailers, something that is a little more attractive,' she said. 'I'm torn because I want to encourage more use of the downtown area by bringing people in and I think this is a good idea.'
Lennox said he had already done the research on those types of trailers and found them to be quite expensive and wouldn't be nearly as presentable as what he has planned.
'My motion is for a trailer,' Howard replied. 'If it's not that then I'm not going to vote for it.'
Councilman Lloyd Martin seemed to be on the other side of the fence regarding the trailers.
'It's a lot of money for one of these trailers and it's a start-up business basically,' he said. 'I mean I'm not happy about port-o-potties either, but if fenced in, dressed up right, maintained properly, and the area does get cleaned up, that's a step in the right direction ...'
Fellow Councilman Jay Hancock echoed Martin's sentiment.
'I think any use down there, even if it only cleans up part of that lot, is superior to what we have now,' he said.
Hancock then went on to make a motion to approve the use of the lot with the toilets as presented, as long as they can meet the requirements set by the OCDC.The motion was then unanimously approved, despite Howard's initial decision to only approve of a trailer.