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It's YOUR Town, Too: Second Community Meeting In Ocean City

Wildlife Preserve, Washington State
Wildlife Preserve, Washington State

We all have our pet peeves with Ocean City.  And we all have ideas as to what we can do to improve.  I have my ideas and I’ve been putting them out there on Patch for years.  I want to know what you think too.  We have an opportunity as a community to define some of the issues in the upcoming elections.  Wouldn’t you like this election to be about the issues that are important to you?

What I propose is a series of informal community meetings at various locations throughout town.  For the month of February let’s meet at the new Starbucks in Ocean City on Sunday afternoons.  I’ll be there from 2:00 to 3:00 PM to take notes and to report back to Patch on the outcome of those meetings.  If we overwhelm the place we’ll come up with another venue.  And that invitation extends to second home owners too.  You have as much of an investment in this town as the rest of us.

When was the last time anyone asked you what matters to you?  I’m asking.  Let’s move this town forward.  We can implement positive change if we demand it.  It’s the citizen of this town that lack a voice and a choice.  Exercise yours.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Parker Miller February 09, 2014 at 11:41 AM
Eric, perhaps if you chose a more politically moderate location than Starbucks more poeple would attend. I know of 4 others besides me who have talked about attending but won't set foot in Starbucks. It started when McDonalds, Burger King, Taco Bell, etc. allowed shops to open on military facilities in the Iraq to make life more pleasant and feeling more like home to our military. It is well documented that Starbucks refused. Last week a disable vet who needs a service dog to function was thrown out of a Starbucks because of the dog. Nice!
Eric Sauder February 09, 2014 at 12:00 PM
Thanks Parker. My intent in choosing a location for these meetings was to support local businesses. Although Starbucks is a franchise the store is locally owned. It was the local owner I was trying to support. But I appreciate your concern and will change the venue soon ... possibly Yanni's at the community center. And I'm starting to worry that we might swamp any location. I tried to reserve a room at the library as a fall back and was told that none are available.
Paul Bade February 09, 2014 at 01:42 PM
It would be nice it there were a way to participate from a remote location (many homeowners live too far away to drive to ocean city for an hour discussion at starbucks)
Karen Bolden February 09, 2014 at 01:57 PM
parker......you must be hallucinating. I have seen several people in OC SB with service dogs......what an idiotic thing to say.......starbucks is awesome and it's always crowded with locals so you are alone in your feelings..........
Louis C Ripa February 09, 2014 at 02:44 PM
Eric: I think your idea is great. The problem is will the powers take your ideas and/or comments favorably? I hope they do because they have been going downhill regarding zoning for a long time. Lou Ripa
Oceancity Resident February 09, 2014 at 02:59 PM
We must infiltrate this meeting of evil shoobies and thwart their dastardly plans.
Eric Sauder February 09, 2014 at 05:06 PM
Paul I scheduled the meetings for Sunday thinking it might work better for second home owners. I have been incorporating comments on Patch into my report on the meetings, so you can comment here or if you like email me with your concerns. My email is ESauder@verizon.net. We had a good turnout today along with a reporter from the Sentinel. Thanks to all that made the meeting a success.
Eric Sauder February 09, 2014 at 05:13 PM
Lou we're doing what we can. Many issues have been brought forward but the pitfalls of over development and what its doing to this town is a recurring theme. I'll try to get a report of the meeting posted soon. Today we heard from someone who rents here. It was great to get his perspective.
The Chosen One February 10, 2014 at 10:25 AM
Perhaps what we need to focus on is full-time residents and how we can increase year round population. Especially younger families to compliment the retirees. Why worry about folks who only come down when the weather is nice .... they'll be down regardless...
Eric Sauder February 10, 2014 at 10:56 AM
I couldn't agree with you more. Our first priority should be to restore our year around population. Its the community of Ocean City that is being neglected and ignored. Hopefully thru building up the community we'll also be able attract commercial investment. Anyway you look at it Ocean City is in decline. We need to try to turn that around. The only commercial in this town that has been thriving is real estate development. And even that's slipping (sales are down.) Our government has gone to great pains to stimulate residential development thru aggressive rezoning but is doing little else. We need to start thinking about how we can make Ocean City both a better place to live and vacation. This is not the place it was 10, 20 years ago.
Deb February 10, 2014 at 03:21 PM
I agree with Parker Miller, not a fan of Starbucks, nor their CEO. I'd rather see local businesses used that are not part of some conglomerate trying to impose their ideals on people. Most year round homeowners realize what it takes to own and operate a business in our town and we forgo malls, chains and services to help keep our local businesses operating. Also, who writes the articles recapping the meeting that appear in The Patch? Or who edits them?
Parker Miller February 11, 2014 at 04:04 PM
Karen, I didn't say it was the OC Starbucks. The story was on 2 national news programs about a disable veteran's being asked to leave a Starbucks because dogs were not allowed. I also feel that a locally owned cafe, coffee shop, etc. should be preferred over a huge fanchise even if the franchise's run by a local franchisee. Starbucks is a McDonalds that serves expensive coffee.
Eric Sauder February 11, 2014 at 06:07 PM
I do (for my own blog anyway,) Tom Davis is now the editor of Patch.
Frank Worrell February 11, 2014 at 07:02 PM
Well we should acknowledge that a fairly large share of the "full time "residents have a second home in the Sunshine state Fl.where they register to vote and with the census .Fl. Is a much better state for taxes .When the weather get warm and you are driving around town check out all the Fl. License plates.many say they are full time OC residents because they only spend a few cold months south but for voting and census they are Fl. residents.
Bob February 11, 2014 at 08:15 PM
The point is this, the jobs that people of age with families, that can afford the real estate on this island since the boom, don't exist around here. The lawyers, the bankers, the principles at engineering firms, etc. Those are all city jobs, and all those people live in Chester, Bucks, or parts of Camden County. There are even a lot of those type of people from the metro-DC area in OC since development is restricted in coastal areas south of Jersey and they're bringing their money up here. The people who live and work here are hard working, blue collar folk. To bring families back, you need to make it so the guy swinging the hammer on these million dollar houses, who only makes $40k a year, can buy a house here. That's not happening ... regardless of whether there is a duplex or a single family home on a property. They use to be able to, even up to 15-20 years ago. Now someone at that income level, with a family, can barely or can't even afford to rent here. That has nothing to do with over development and everything to do with people treating property on the island as just a number in their investment portfolio with no regard for the town itself (despite what they say or pretend).
Eric Sauder February 11, 2014 at 09:43 PM
Good comments and I don't disagree with you, although I think some of the issues are getting muddled. What this is is a public forum and I'm advancing the views of the people that attended those meetings. I realize that people are attributing those views to me since I'm the one that is calling attention to them. My solution for increasing residency is to aggressively market Ocean City as a place to retire to and to plan accordingly. Other people believe we need an infusion of young families. Like you I don't know if we can make that work, but I gave it more thought. As far as jobs are concerned we are within commuting distance of the greater Philadelphia area. There are commuting neighborhoods that are no more accessible to the major cities than we are. Denver, Pa. is an example. And more and more people telecommute today. There are certain professional niche fields that are not dependent on physical location. And IF we can build up our population, new businesses could open up here in addition to professional services. So I don't think its out of the question that we could attract working families. Having said that I think it would be easier to attract retirees. My objective is to build up residency. The other part of the equation has to do with the affordability of housing. Over development is a different animal but it does come into play here. We need to preserve those more modest single family homes (cottages whatever you want to call them) but they are succumbing to development pressure. The solution is zoning. Too much price pressure is being put on single family homes to have them remain in single family. Once a property is rezoned for duplex sooner or later duplex will be built. And that increased density is also responsible for driving up the cost of land, precluding any other application for it. With the decline of property values, and particularly where abandoned commercial property is being rezoned for residential, I believe we have the opportunity to build more traditional single family homes. IF WE WANT TO. I believe traditional single family is the kind of housing that would be most attractive to retirees or working families. Can you get the cost down far enough to make it work for families? I don't know. Possibly a two earner household where at least one spouse is working in a professional field. But I do think we could bring Ocean City within reach of retirees who have equity built up in their existing home. And a job market isn't a factor there. The problem is we're not zoning for residency. We're zoning for profitability. Only the very wealthy and investors are going to buy into the housing we're building now. In neither case will it stimulate residency. That's my take on it. I mean you can look at the statistics and throw in the towel or you can try to do something to reverse that trend. When you look at Ocean City it has managed to retain some community presence despite what is happening all around us. I'd just like to see us at least try to build up our community before throwing in the towel. And somehow I believe we can if we make this community our priority. I repeated myself here once again but yours was a thoughtful comment that deserved a thoughtful response.
Eric Sauder February 11, 2014 at 10:02 PM
Would people want to pay more to live here? I think that's something we need to think about. What we can do to make Ocean City a better place to live? We have the ocean going for us. But realistically we don't have much in the way of amenities compared to suburban neighborhoods. I'm hoping that an increase in population may bring with it commercial investment. When I walk into the new Starbucks I feel like I walked thru a portal to someplace else.
Eric Sauder February 11, 2014 at 10:07 PM
Let's face it. So much of what once made Ocean City livable is now either in duplex or condo. People will say those businesses folded of their own accord but I think a lot of those business owners sold out because the land was more valuable than the business. I think some of them might still be around if we hadn't zoned the land for high density residential.
Eric Sauder February 11, 2014 at 10:13 PM
Its not like the businesses in my neighborhood weren't profitable. Campbell's did a lot of business, But $6mill is a lot of flounder.
Bob February 11, 2014 at 10:31 PM
Campbell's was a legacy business. It was up there with Mac n' Mancos (or whatever it's called now) and Shriver's. I don't know everything that transpired with that transaction, but I know people who had some choice names for Mrs. Mulford. Businesses came/come in two flavors in OC, the tourist ones... The ones locals worked at but never patronize (I'm sure many people who grew up here can relate to being asked by relatives and friends out of state who rave about that 'one' place and ask, "you must go there all the time?!". with the oc native saying "never been there in my life, but a lot of my friends work there"). Or the ones that provided day-to-day services; Stainton's, Peter Lumber, the multiple car dealerships that use to be in town, etc. Those have gone the way of small town America and are never coming back. That's a national problem, however.
Eric Sauder February 11, 2014 at 11:12 PM
Yeah it was only open during the season and probably catered more to the tourists but it was still nice to have something in the neighborhood you could walk to. And not having it doesn't make this town a better place for the tourists either. We had Torries and Casa Del Dolce too. That was all a part of the charm of my neighborhood back in the day. We still have Kessels and you should see the people lined up on the sidewalk to get into the place. I saw your next post in my inbox. We'll put them on death watch. Acme and CVS will probably both go out. I could envision a big condominium complex there (in my nightmares.)
Eric Sauder February 11, 2014 at 11:16 PM
At least WE still have a Wawa :)
Frank February 12, 2014 at 03:13 AM
Eric - LISTEN to Bob!
Eric Sauder February 13, 2014 at 01:04 AM
As for you Frank have you ever read CS Lewis? Do you know who Wormwood was?
Eric Sauder February 13, 2014 at 02:03 AM
You know I really grow weary of these arguments. Its all so simple really. its all about how much money you can make off of this town. Nothing more. Everything else is subservient to it.
Eric Sauder February 13, 2014 at 06:31 AM
Bob there is a strong demand for single family too but you don't see traditional single family being built. Clearly there's more to it than that.
Eric Sauder February 13, 2014 at 06:59 AM
We're never going to agreed with each other. I don't make my money off of real estate and development. What I care about is the future of this community. You probably know I responded in greater detail but I deleted what I posted. Its pointless to continue to argue. Our objectives are at odds.
Frank February 13, 2014 at 05:51 PM
Eric - you always grow "weary" when someone does not agree with your point of view. Your problem is that YOU don't make money off of real estate and development. If you did you would not have created this absurd crusade. If it were not for development, real estate, insurance, plumbing, and the venues that support tourism OC would be merely Camden by the sea. MOVE ON!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Louis C Ripa February 14, 2014 at 07:14 PM
Eric I have read all the comments and it appears to me it is like talking to the choir. I am not sure you can win. I give you an A for effort but you are fighting the city employees, the elected officials and the appointed officials. Keep trying and you might cut threw the locals (who control the City). Lou
Beachy Keen February 15, 2014 at 11:24 AM
Eric. I think that you and Bob are both correct in many of your comments. Everything is about greed, sad but true. Let's face it OC is a tourist economy And as Bob points out the only real other economy is real estate and all connected to that. Of course you have the bloated public sector b/ c back to the vicious circle there is no other real private economy except tourism and a few seasonal businesses. Funny but I don't see you and Bob so much at odds you are both coming at the same problem from different ends. Sometimes it takes a new set of eyes to break the status quo. The community meetings sound like a great idea and it is especially important to involve 2nd homeowners as well as locals

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