By MADDY VITALE
The Planning Board on Wednesday approved a resolution that would eliminate senior citizen housing as a conditional use in the Boardwalk zone.
“We can make a motion in the affirmative to adopt and approve it and we will forward our resolution promptly to the city clerk,” Planning Board Solicitor Gary Griffith explained to the board during its meeting.
In a unanimous vote, board members agreed with City Council that senior housing does not belong in the Boardwalk’s recreation area. The matter will be sent back to City Council for a final vote on June 24.
Council introduced and adopted the zoning ordinance that would exclude senior citizen housing from the Boardwalk zone on May 27.
Randall Scheule, a professional planner representing the Planning Board, said in a report that he conducted an analysis of the city’s Master Plan.
“The Master Plan recognizes that area for resort commercial and commercial recreation uses. It does not recognize residential, so it would seem that the elimination of the senior housing would be more in line with what the Planning Board wanted,” Scheule noted of the Boardwalk zone. “The recommendation is that the city may consider appropriate conditional uses for houses that would apply.”
When the matter came up in May during a Council meeting, the governing body said that the zoning change would essentially close a loophole that would have allowed senior citizen housing developments to be built in areas of the Boardwalk that should be reserved for family-oriented entertainment.
However, City Council President Bob Barr and other Council members who voted for the ordinance said that it did not unfairly “single out” senior citizens.
If developers want to build senior or age-restricted housing in other parts of Ocean City, they have the right to bring their proposals before the planning or zoning boards for review, the Council members said.