At Thursday's public City Council meeting at the Ocean City Free Public Library, the city administration delivered a draft budget that calls for only a 1 percent tax levy increase, Mayor Jay Gillian offered his annual budget address and City Council hired a consultant to make sure FEMA's base flood elevation map reflects reality. But here are five other things that might be of interest.
- City Council passed the first reading of an ordinance rezoning West Avenue (on the side toward the ocean) between North Street and Second Street. The change would be from "North End Neighborhood" to "R-1-30" in an effort to encourage redevelopment with new single-family homes. The change was recommended in the city's Master Plan. A second reading on the ordinance is scheduled for March 28.
- City Council passed the first reading of an ordinance that appropriates $5.8 million (with $5.5 million in borrowing) for capital improvements. The ordinance is part of an aggressive plan by Mayor Jay Gillian's administration to catch up on neglected infrastructure improvements. It includes $2.9 million to reconstruct various streets and drainage systems, $690,000 for storm repairs to public buildings, $550,000 for dredging bayside lagoons and $1 million to replace city vehicles. The ordinance represents about half of the administration's plan to spend $10 million per year. A second ordinance will likely be introduced this summer. A second reading on the current ordinance is scheduled for Feb. 28.
- City Council had been scheduled to consider the first reading of an ordinance that would affect homes that front the Ocean City Boardwalk between 16th and 23rd streets. The ordinance would treat the single- and two-family homes in the same way as properties that front the beach — allowing them 33 feet in height above the "zoning flood elevation." The ordinance had been tabled at the last City Council meeting, and City Council on Thursday decided again not to consider it. Council members want more time to make sure the ordinance holds up in the changing landscape of elevation guidelines.
- City Council gave final approval to an ordinance intended to expand permitted uses in the Drive-In Business (DB) Zone centered on West Avenue on either side of Ninth Street. The measure keeps all existing businesses as conforming uses.
- City Council passed the second reading of an ordinance that appropriates $5.3 million (with $5 million in borrowing) for capital improvements. The work includes $2,675,000 to replace dunes, fencing and plantings across the length of the island's oceanfront — including trucking sand in to bolster dunes at the south end. The work also includes $2,050,000 to repair public buildings in the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy.