Last month, the Town of Ocean View was approached by Bob Thornton of Silverstock LLC, requesting the Town consider an ordinance that would allow for hotel/lodging uses in the Town’s Mixed-Use Planned Communities (MXPC) zone, through the granting of special exceptions.
Thornton and his attorney, Mark F. Dunkle, returned to the Ocean View Town Council at their Jan. 8 meeting to continue the discussion.
Dunkle said that, given the Town’s current code, commercial spaces, including a gas station, cemetery, hospital, veterinary hospital and library, are all permissible uses on the property.
“You already have hotels in this town,” Dunkle argued. “You rent rooms by the night and by the week through ResortQuest and other reputable companies. That is a hotel business that is dispersed.
“It’s not a good idea from a public safety [standpoint] … to have individual motel/hotels spread out all over the place. This ordinance is good for your whole community. … He can build a building that looks exactly like a hotel on this thing that says ‘multi-family,’ and all those units can be rented out.”
Dunkle emphasized that the proposed project will not be another Fairway Village — referencing that community’s dispute between its developer and property owners who assert the developer has been improperly renting properties it owns in the community — and that Silverstock has and will keep potential and current owners informed.
“That means there’s no surprises,” he said. “We think this is a pretty easy call — not a difficult one. We would like to work with you.”
Councilman Frank Twardzik said he would be in favor of an ordinance that would allow for hotels/lodging through a special-use exception.
“We can guide you as far as how big the building is in size and construction … making that building conform to what we call ‘Town standards,’” he said. “This council is really concerned about what your residents think about this. I’d like to see a parade of potential residents or current residents. I think that would help a lot.”
Councilman Bert Reynolds said the council needs to consider the long-term effects of such an ordinance.
“This isn’t a petition to allow a hotel in Silverwoods. This is an ordinance that any parcel zoned MXPC could put in a hotel,” Reynolds said. “We have to keep that in mind. … My big objection to this is the fact that the hotel was not on here,” he said of the plan for the development.
“I’m sure it’s been advertised and communicated that this is a mixed-purpose… But a hotel was never mentioned — at least it shouldn’t have been… Given that we’re coming in after the fact, when this development is already started, we already have houses built…”
Reynolds acknowledged that the Town already has a great deal of property owners renting out their homes.
“But adding in a hotel just, in my opinion, compounds that. We’re just adding more to the problem we already have.”
Town Solicitor Dennis Schrader pointed out that if the Town were to allow for a special-use exception granting approval for hotels/lodging, they would be able to oversee such uses more than private home rentals.
“If it’s a hotel, at least you have the privilege of regulating the number of occupants, which we don’t seem to have at this time.”
“I am essentially against the concept of bringing a hotel in, but not for the reasons people think,” said Mayor Walter Curran. “After what this town has gone through [with Fairway Village] … this would be a big change, and so my first personal concern is, what do the residents of Silverwoods think of this thing?”
Curran noted that the development already has a layout for two strip malls and a retirement facility.
“There’s a lot of commercial enterprise built into this.”
Schrader said there were three variations of a draft ordinance to allow for hotels/lodging as part of an approved MXPC, subject to the findings required for a special-use exception.
“It would also be subject to development plan review,” Curran said, so the Town could address height, area and bulk limits.
Curran stated that the council would not entertain an ordinance introduction on the issue until all five members of council were present. (Councilman Tom Maly was absent from Tuesday’s meeting.)
“I think we’ll be able to face this and address it — good, bad or indifferent — at the next meeting,” he said.
The council plans to revisit the topic at its Feb. 12 meeting.
Also during Tuesday’s meeting, the council had a presentation from Bob Wheatley of the Wayland Group, who discussed possibly overseeing exterior restoration to the Wallace A. Melson Municipal Building.
“Construction defects are complicated,” said Wheatley. “It’s usually fertile ground for long, protracted lawsuits and procedures. Hopefully, we can circumvent all that. We’re at a point where we have knowledge about what’s going on there. But I think there’s a couple steps in between before we can arrive at a solution.”
Wheatley said he would be willing to work with the Town as to payment for his oversight — be it hourly payment or a flat fee. Prior to the meeting, he did provide a proposal for a scope of services that included preparation of bidding documents, marketing the project to bidders and recommendation of trade contractors.
“I think the role I could play for you in this — you need a representative,” he said. “You need somebody in this game that is working just for you, and can orchestrate and bring common sense to the situation… to not let the analysis or development of the solution get out of hand.”
The council agreed that they would like to hire Wheatley, or a similar company, to lead them through the restoration process.
The council did not vote on Jan. 8 to hire Wheatley, as they may need to put the job out to bid.
Curran said that, while he is “dismayed” at the issues the Town has had with the building, it does not seem prudent to pursue legal action.
“It is what it is. It’s 10 years in… It would literally be throwing good money after bad.”
In other Town news:
• The council unanimously approved the Town’s election calendar for 2019, which includes the candidate filing deadline (March 6), voter registration deadline (April 1) and Election Day (April 13). Two council seats are up for election this year — District 1, which is currently represented by Councilman Bill Olsen, and District 2, currently represented by Councilman Frank Twardzik. Olsen said he would not be seeking re-election.
• Due to the resignation of Planning & Zoning Commissioner Bill Wichmann, for personal reasons, the council appointed Mark Nicholson to fill the vacancy through the rest of Wichmann’s term.
“I’d like to thank Bill Wichmann,” said Curran. “I personally want to thank him for the many years he provided to this town.”
By Maria Counts