Council Agenda: Living in Crawlspaces? Is Your Alley Up Next?

Council Agenda: Living in Crawlspaces? Is Your Alley Up Next?

City Hall in Ocean City

City Council meets at 5:30 p.m. on Thursday (Oct. 22) at City Hall and will consider a ban on the use of drones in Ocean City.

Council has a full agenda, and here are some items that may be of special interest:



Because so many, homes were being elevated after Superstorm Sandy in 2012, Ocean City passed an ordinance requiring sellers to create deed restrictions reminding buyers that ground-level crawlspaces cannot be used as habitable space. But council on Sept. 10 passed the first reading of an ordinance that would to remove the requirement for deed restrictions (but keep the use restriction). The deed restriction requirement was “onerous and really not necessary,” City Solicitor Dottie McCrosson said at the time. It added time and expense to home sales, even though the use is still subject to enforcement by the zoning office.

Council will consider the second reading of the ordinance change after a public hearing at the meeting on Thursday. The Planning Board has deemed the amendment consistent with the city’s Master Plan, but the Zoning Board submitted this letter of objection:

Dear City Council members,

The Oeean City Zoning Board of Adjustment strongly disagrees with the ordinance change which eliminates the requirement for deed restrictions for ground-level crawlspaces. The aftermath of Superstorm Sandy has resulted in higher under-home ground level spaces with heights of 7 feet and above, which can easily be converted to habitable space.

We have observed that the current Sandy recovery building and renovation boom has brought many offshore and, indeed, out-of-state contractors into the city, many of whom are unfamiliar with zoning and permitting requirements. As a result, we have seen post-construciion variance applications for work already completed which does not meet code. It is likely that the city is capturing only a small percentage of these actual violations. We see no “upside” to the city’s planning and zoning requirements to the implementation of this change and view it as the removal of an impediment to non-conforming alterations.

We realize that deed restrictions may not prevent current homeowners from illegally converting these spaces; however, it is felt that the restrictions represent an emphasis on the illegality of these conversion and protect future buyers from purchasing a non-compliant property. These deed restrictions are not cumbersome to file, as the Zoning Office has pre-printed forms which can easily be registered and filed.

Again, we strongly urge that City Council reconsider the passing of this ordinance cbange as we feel that it will result in an increase in non-conforming habitable space conversions.

Thank you for your time and consideration.

James Houck
Chairperson Ocean City Zoning Board

ALLEY IMPROVEMENTS: Council will vote on going out to bid for milling and repaving the following alleys:

  • Wesley/Ocean: 1st to 2nd streets
  • Asbury/Central: 3rd to 4th streets
  • West/Asbury: 10th to 11th streets
  • Asbury/Central: 54th to 55th streets
  • Asbury/Central: 55th to 56th streets

HEALTHY LIVING COUNCIL: Council will vote on the second reading of an ordinance changing the name of the Advisory Council on Physical Fitness and Sports to the Ocean City Healthy Living Advisory Council.

SAND HAULING: Council will vote on seeking bids from companies that can haul sand from the beach south of the Ocean City-Longport Bridge to any area of beach that needs emergency repair.

UNDERGROUND FUEL TANK REMEDIATION: Council will vote on a professional services contract with the engineering firm Adams, Rehmann and Heggan to design plans and specifications to remediate underground fuel tanks at the city’s Fleet Maintenance Building on the 1100 block of Haven Avenue.

NORTH END PUMPING STATION: Council will vote on awarding at $118,400 contract to Paulus, Sokolowski and Sarto for additional design services for the North End Pumping Station that will be designed to relieve flooding between 2nd Street and 8th Street from West Avenue to the bay.

LIFE SAVING STATION: Council will vote to seek bidders qualified to perform work on the final stage of restoration for the historic Life Saving Station at Fourth Street and Atlantic Avenue in Ocean City. Read more: Rescue of Ocean City’s Life Saving Station Nears Completion.


For complete documentation on all agenda items see the Agenda Packet.