Ocean View reviews several ordinances

That’s a lot of ordinance.
Ocean View Town Council held first readings on two, continued discussion on two that were tabled at second reading last month and introduced three new ones at the March 1 town council meeting.

(1) Council members approved an ordinance that would permit larger signs on parcels with two or more businesses, as a first reading. It will proceed to second reading as follows — a 24-square-foot sign for the first two businesses, and an additional 4 square feet sign for each additional business, total not to exceed 64 square feet on any single side.

(2) They approved an ordinance that would restrict residential-planned communities (RPCs) in District 2 to single-family RPCs only, as a first reading.

(District 2 refers to the portion of town that existed before the Bear Trap annexation, and sans the Route 26 corridor.)

(3) They again tabled an ordinance that would reduce developable land in subdivisions, but removing certain areas (wetlands, streets, etc.) from total acreage when making density calculations.

(4) Council again tabled an ordinance that would restrict subdivisions to a maximum of 10 acres — after that, developers would have to go RPC.

Once the council members receive a recommendation on (3) and (4) from the town Planning and Zoning (P&Z) Commission, they will be able to move forward to second hearing, and the final vote.

(5) They introduced an ordinance that would prohibit multi-family townhouses, duplexes and garden apartments in subdivisions.

(6) In simpler matters, they introduced an ordinance that would add “public and private schools” to permitted uses in the General Business (GB) district.
• Part of the Lord Baltimore Elementary School presently rests on a parcel zoned residential, where the town permits schools only as a special exception use.
• Special exception uses require approval as a variance, from the town Board of Adjustment (in the county, schools require approval as conditional uses).
• Variances are nonconforming, and a nonconforming structure cannot be “enlarged or altered in any way which increases its nonconformity,” according to town code. Pending renovations at Lord Baltimore would add square footage to the structure.
• The town intends to re-zone the entire Route 26 corridor (including the school) as GB someday soon, which is why the ordinance addresses that district, and not residential.
• (As a sidebar, another part of the school rests on county land, and the town will need to annex that portion before the Ocean View P&Z can provide oversight on the entire project.)

(7) And finally, council introduced an ordinance that will allow the town to enforce Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) violations regarding signage, following a complaint.

Action on all of the above was by unanimous accord of the full council.

Council also accepted an agreement with the Village of Bear Trap Dunes, which will make the town the “grantee” of a conservation easement, and considered a possible arrangement with Tidewater Utilities regarding water service to a new restaurant planned for 27 Atlantic Avenue (on Route 26, next to the Raskauskas Shopping Center).

Tidewater’s Bruce Patrick reiterated the company’s willingness to sell the water main back to the town, to become part of the planned central water system, if that should prove council’s desire.

The company originally planned to run the main from Woodland Avenue to Town Road.

Council rejected that plan.

In response to concerns regarding disturbance on Route 26, Tidewater has now suggested an alternate path down West Avenue, with no more than 840 feet of water work along Route 26.

Council Member Bill Wickmann asked, “What do you do when some homeowner says, ‘My well just quit on me — I want to hook up to Tidewater.’”

Wickmann said he disliked the idea of running central water by property owners who might want it, but might not be allowed to have it.

According to Patrick, the restaurant would be paying the major portion of the costs. It wouldn’t be comparable to running a municipal system by someone’s house and then arbitrarily choosing whether to hook them up.

“If we could do it economically, we’d be willing to entertain that,” Patrick added.

Council Member Eric Magill objected on several fronts. “It’s still going to be 840 feet, and it’s still going to disrupt everyone — for the next two years, instead of just two years from now (when the town system is scheduled for construction),” he said.

There were other matters to consider, such as the Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity (CPCN). Tidewater would have to obtain the CPCN, but then agree to relinquish it to the municipality when their system came on line.

Patrick said they’d worked out similar situations with other municipalities.

Council agreed to hold off on a decision until the next workshop (rescheduled for March 14), and a closer look at the deal.

Finally, council considered Town Solicitor Dennis Schrader’ rate increase.

Schrader has been charging Ocean View at $125 per hour since 2001 (according to Town Manager Kathy Roth that came out to roughly $13,000 a year).

He is now offering his services to the town at a rate of $165 per hour.

Council Member Norm Amendt called it a big jump, and said he’d want to look at what other towns were paying their attorneys.

However, Mayor Gary Meredith suggested it might not be a good time to change solicitors. “He knows a lot of the background, and we have a lot of things going on,” Meredith said.

Wichmann agreed, but noted council’s fiduciary responsibility and said it might be a good idea to check around for lower rates.

Council Member Wade Spanutius moved to keep Schrader on at the higher rate, but the motion died for lack of a second.

Wichmann moved to negotiate for professional services, and that motion passed.