Ocean View continues zoning modifications

Ocean View Town Council adopted two new zoning ordinances at the April 5 town council meeting, one regarding business signage and the other restricting multifamily development.

The sign ordinance will give multiple businesses on the same parcel more leeway than code as it previously existed.

Then, the town allowed a 24-square-foot sign (on each side) at each parcel, regardless how many businesses were situated there.

Now, up to two businesses still face the same restriction, but each additional business gets an additional four square feet.

Council set maximum size at 64 square feet (per side) — enough to accommodate a parcel housing 12 businesses. However, there were still questions regarding minimum sizes.

As Council Member Eric Magill pointed out, much of the rationale for providing larger signs was traffic safety.

Nothing in the ordinance prevents the landlord, for instance, from taking up 60 square feet for himself and cramming the other 11 businesses into the remaining four square feet.

“We specifically brought this up for public safety — if we end up with a tiny sign, we’re not solving the issue,” Magill said.

George Walter (Elliot Avenue) suggested council consider putting something in the ordinance to address the size of the lettering — arguably more important than the size of the sign.

The other ordinance was more straightforward. Henceforth, the town will permit only single-family homes in District 2 residential planned communities (RPCs).

This will likely affect few parcels in District 2 (Ocean View before Bear Trap, and minus the Route 26 corridor).

Council unanimously adopted both ordinances, and held first readings on three others.

• Schools a permitted use in general business (GB) districts.

• No multifamily in subdivisions, except for District 1 (Route 26 corridor)

• Enforcement of handicapped signage regulations

In other business, water service to Bob Harris’ pending railroad restaurant (27 Atlantic Ave.) had to be modified to avoid redesign work on Route 26.

Tidewater Utilities engineer Bruce Patrick presented an alternate plan that will now bring the water main in from the Bethany system, and along the east side of Tyler Drive.

When Ocean View completes its own system, the connection to Bethany would remain closed except during emergencies.

Tidewater has agreed to sell back the advance portion at cost (either the town’s or Tidewater’s, whichever is lower) — with an additional $10,000 discount thrown in for good measure.

Council renewed Town Solicitor Dennis Schrader’s contract, and approved the conditions on Bear Trap’s donation of land for the new police station.

Schrader said he’d modified one original condition — that the land would revert to Bear Trap if it ever stopped being used as a police station.

He reworded the condition in such a way that it would remain town property as long as there was some municipal use at that location.

Richard Moore (William Street) asked if the town could ever lease the building, if for instance it ever converted to a state or regional police station, and Schrader said that would be permitted.

However, the town could never sell the property.

Council Member Eric Magill stuck on that condition, and voted in opposition, but the remaining council members approved the deal.

Schrader said the town agreed to accept liability for errant golf balls from the nearby driving range, but it would take a mighty — and wild — shot to reach the police station anyway.

Council also introduced an annexation request for the county portion of the Lord Baltimore Elementary School property, approved Police Chief Ken McLaughlin’s request for a Web hosting contract (Brooks Layton) and approved the fiscal 2006 operating and capital improvement budgets.

• The town anticipates $1,760,000 in revenues, $7,970,000 in expenditures and outlays. Nearly $5 million in financing and a $1.28 million transfer from reserves balances the budget.

• Big ticket items include police station plus security and phone systems ($3.24 million), $2 million for the central water system, 265,000 for street drainage projects (primarily in Country Village and West View), a $250,000 six-bay public works garage and $190,000 for bike paths and sidewalks.