Historic District Workshop Set for Thursday

Historic District Workshop Set for Thursday

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Map shows Ocean City’s local Historic District outlined in red, and the State and National Registers of Historic Places outlined in black. The state map includes a dogleg that encompasses the historic Bellevue Hotel at Eighth Street and Ocean Avenue (which burned to the ground in September 2012). The local map includes an extension drawn to include the historic U.S. Life Saving Station No. 30 at Fourth Street and Atlantic Avenue.

 

City Council invites the public to a workshop to discuss possible changes to the ordinance that governs Ocean City’s Historic District, a surviving collection of century-old homes in a roughly 16-block area bounded by Third Street and Eighth Street between Central and Ocean avenues.

The workshop begins at 6 p.m. in City Council Chambers on the third floor of City Hall at Ninth Street and Asbury Avenue.

Representatives from the State of New Jersey Historic Preservation office (who toured the local district in the spring)  and the Ocean City Historic Preservation Commission will be present to explain recommended changes. No formal action will be taken at the workshop meeting

The ordinance can be found in the PDF document below (with proposed changes in red).

Most of the changes could be considered “housekeeping” updates to clarify and update language in the ordinance.

But any change to the ordinance can be perceived by some as a burden to property owners. By a more than 2-to-1 margin among 76 respondents to a recent City Council survey, property owners said they would opt out of the district if they could.

A 2007 inventory of historically designated properties lists 79 of 311 (about 25 percent) properties that are “noncontributing” (not historic), but all properties within the district must follow the same rules.

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District property owners were notified by certified mail of Thursday’s meeting. Council members had said they want to communicate the proposed revisions and solicit feedback before making any permanent changes to the ordinance.

The proposed changes stem from an effort to preserve more historic homes in a slowly dwindling inventory. Ocean City’s district surrounds the Ocean City Tabernacle, the hub of the community at the time of Ocean City’s founding in the late 19th century.

The draft ordinance includes no proposed changes to the Historic District map.

If the district refuses to grant permission for a property owner to demolish a historic home, the period the property must be marketed for sale remains at six months.The Historic Preservation Commission had originally proposed a change to one year in an effort to make sure the property for sale could be seen in the summer.

The Commission later compromised and proposed six months, as long as two of them were summer months. But a further suggestion that the peak times for real estate searches are in the shoulder seasons led the proposed amendment back to six months.

If the peak real estate season were defined as March through October, any six-month stretch would include two peak months.

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