Development needs limit
Posted On: 10/1/15
Few, if any, people would want to block the Rinnier Development Company’s 700-plus-townhome complex on Seahawk Road, as it would help maintain the economic balance and vitality that is necessary to Berlin’s success. As Mayor Gee Williams observed this week, the town does not want to become so exclusive that only the upper middle class and beyond can live there. That can happen, as has been demonstrated in other highly desirable towns on the Eastern Shore, as well as in Ocean City, where the cost of housing is one reason – there are others, of course – for its dwindling residential base in recent years. Obviously, increasing exclusivity leads to increasing expense to a community’s remaining residents. Still, amending the zoning code to permit the Planning Commission to decide how much is too much, as it pertains to the number of units per building in a housing development, is asking for trouble. Common sense says that what Rinnier proposes to do is pro...» Click here for the full story.
Question of fees good one
Posted On: 9/24/15
As the topic of adjusting or adding fees for nonmembers surfaced in the most recent Ocean Pines Association board meeting, the point to think about is that charging nonmembers a higher price for access to recreational facilities can be a tricky business. That’s because it’s a balancing act with three pivot points: fairness, revenue and marketing. Both Ocean Pines and Ocean City have tiered fee structures for many of their offerings, having one charge for residents or members and a higher fee for nonresidents and nonmembers. That’s only fair, since these facilities were created for use by the constituencies of the governing bodies, that is to say the taxpayers and members who pay the bulk of the construction and operational costs. Letting others in for the same basic rate when they aren’t bearing that financial responsibility would be unfair to those who do. The question, however, is what that rate ought to be and how dependent these operations are on ...» Click here for the full story.
FIddler’s, an unlikely hit, became an enduring one
Posted On: 9/10/15
Twenty-five years ago, Berlin businessman and then County Commissioner Jim Barrett had an idea about how to add a little life to what was then a mostly quiet downtown. Why not, he wondered, have a fiddling competition such as the one he had just seen in Elkins, Va.? Throw in some bluegrass-style entertainment, pile some hay bales on Main Street in front of the Atlantic Hotel, which he and nine other partners had brought back to life a few years earlier, and it just might become a big draw for the town. He ran the thought by local musician Frank Nanna, and the pair went about putting it all together, knowing that it would it make for an enjoyable event, but with no idea of how long a run it would enjoy. Turns out, it exceeded their expectations. The first convention in 1993 was so enthusiastically received that there was no question that a second and possibly a third would be in order. Barrett passed away in 2004, but not before the fiddlers convention had established itself as a f...» Click here for the full story.
As it turns out, we are ‘urban’ after all
Posted On: 9/3/15
The question, it would seem, is why the new "Urban Area, Stay Alert" traffic sign on the highway in Berlin employs the word "urban, when it's obvious that Berlin is hardly an urban area. Or is it? First, though, as Mayor Gee Williams said regarding that particular sign language, he doesn't care what it says as long as it causes motorists to drive with care. That's the new sign's purpose and even if drivers do reduce speed as they ponder what's urban and what isn't, that's fine too. As it happens, the use of "urban" serves two purposes, the first of which is that it is a federally recognized description of the area – believe it or not – while the second is that it fits the space allowed. As newspaper headline writers know all too well, it's not easy to find a word that has both a clear meaning and the right letter count to fill a restricted amount of space. That's why, in this instance, "urban" works while, say, "populated area&qu...» Click here for the full story.
In this instance, it’s OK to color outside the lines
Posted On: 8/27/15
Worcester County’s Habitat for Humanity is taking a bold and non-traditional step with its plan to develop a housing project geared toward artists. Although Habitat’s purpose generally is to provide reasonable and affordable housing for families, its proposed 6,000-square foot complex adheres to the nonprofit organization’s principles while also taking an entrepreneurial step that is expected to pay dividends over the longer term. Most artists aren’t exactly flush with money – the struggling artist image is more often true than not – and can’t afford a reasonable place to live. This Habitat venture, however, is going a step farther by providing artists who meet the nonprofit organization’s financial requirements a place to live – and work. In addition to three apartments that will be offered for sale, the project also will have three retail units that can be rented as gallery or studio space, with that rental income helping Habi...» Click here for the full story.
Non-meeting no big deal
Posted On: 8/20/15
The supposedly secret organizational meeting that didn’t happen in Ocean Pines last week before the full OPA board of directors met on Monday isn’t as big a deal as the subsequent mini uproar would suggest. It might, at first blush, sound surreptitious on the part of directors Tom Terry and Pat Renaud, who tried and failed to arrange the gathering, but it is hardly the ethical or legal breach it’s being made out to be. The meeting, which ostensibly was to coordinate a vote for the board’s officers in this new term, failed to materialize after new directors Cheryl Jacobs and Tom Herrick declined to attend. Had the meeting taken place, however, it would have been no different than any other routine political caucus held to establish a possible new majority and its pecking order. Regardless of what anyone thinks about it, it’s a common practice that occurs at all political levels. What these private sessions do engender, however, is interesting political...» Click here for the full story.
Balanced board ahead
Posted On: 8/13/15
Congratulations to Tom Herrick and Cheryl Jacobs, who were elected to the Ocean Pines Association Board of Directors on Saturday. The voters themselves also deserve recognition for making a pair of excellent choices. The addition of two people who ran as independent thinkers should bring balance to the board and do well by the community, especially considering that Herrick addressed the need to represent the “unique diversity of our community” while Jacobs ran as a “fresh face” and nonaligned candidate. Judging from what both have said along the campaign trail this summer, both understand how the system is supposed to work. Considering that Herrick is retired from the New York State Police and that Jacobs, following a stint in big business, was an assistant prosecutor in Baltimore City for many years, both know how structured working environments should function and that clear communications are critical. Of interest, of course, will be how the new board sha...» Click here for the full story.
Put aside your agendas
Posted On: 8/6/15
To employ a cliché, it’s all over but the shouting, and possibly that is over as well, as the voting deadline passes in Ocean Pines’ Board of Directors election. The results of the months-long campaign will be revealed Saturday and the two winners will be installed on the Ocean Pines Association’s ruling body. The business of the association doesn’t shift into standby mode during the election process, so the new directors will be wading into the continuously flowing stream of things to do. The most obvious of these are well known: the reserve study, the elusive Sandpiper energy contract and the financial performance of the various amenities. Not quite as sensational, at least in terms of public debate, is the condition of the community’s infrastructure, most notably its bridges, which need attention as well. Whatever the election outcome, this year’s board would best assist the community by putting any differences or agendas aside. The pas...» Click here for the full story.
GM shouldn’t factor in vote
Posted On: 7/30/15
As the voting deadline approaches in Ocean Pines, property owners who have yet to mail their ballots would be wise to keep in mind that this election should not be considered a referendum on the Ocean Pines Association on how the general manager should do his job. It is, and should always be, about which candidates have the ability to think beyond the immediate circumstances, can contemplate the future with an open mind without becoming mired in the day-to-day politics and conflicts, can compromise when that’s needed, but remain an independent representative of the community. Yes, that does sound platitudinous, but the fact remains that all too often the OPA Board of Directors – and every other elected body – focuses more on the process and who’s leading it than it does the objective. Obviously, everyone wants the same thing: reasonable assessments, a financially stable association without piling up money for which there is no real purpose, and solid se...» Click here for the full story.
Hats off to Chamber, Water Resources team
Posted On: 7/23/15
What can we say about last week’s Berlin Bathtub races, except that we came in second to the military-industrial-government complex of Berlin’s Water Resources department. While it is true that its entry was somewhat faster than ours, that’s what anyone would expect when word is that Water Resources called in favors from some of its contacts in the realm of government contractors. We can’t prove it, but it sure did look like the wheels on its highly specialized machine carried the logo of Lockheed Martin, whereas we, in the private sector, had to make do with over-the-counter materials. And although their cockpit might have looked like a washtub, we suspect it was a cleverly disguised “Stealth” washtub made of space age elements, while we had, well, a bunch of old newspapers. Of course, we’re just kidding. Water Resources won fair and square and did a fine job, as did all the other entries that turned out to make last week’s event one...» Click here for the full story.