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Berlin, Ocean Pines News Worcester County Bayside Gazette Logo Berlin, Ocean Pines News Worcester County Bayside Gazette


OP community still buzzing about home-based business

(April 16, 2015) A week after a potential new home-based business involving firearms sparked debate and then abruptly ended in Ocean Pines, questions remain about exactly what the Ocean Pines Association’s community bylaws allow.
According to Section 700.2 of the Architectural Review Committee guidelines, home occupations in Ocean Pines must be “conducted solely within the structure,” unless the business relates to childcare and cannot generate “substantial” amounts of traffic.
Businesses are limited to no more than 25 percent of the gross floor area of the home and cannot use signs of any type, including window signs.
The community forbids businesses from stocking anything “other than parts or supplies used in the occupation” on the premises, and further stipulates that nothing can be sold “except what is produced on the premises or as permitted by special exception by the committee.”
Businesses cannot include a boarding house, rooming house, bed and breakfast or a private educational institution, and must be run by the homeowner or a member of the immediate family of the homeowner.
The community granted a variance to Moonshell Drive resident Jim Kosienski in February to store and stock firearms for a business. Last week, however, Kosienski withdrew his application for a similar variance from county government after telling the Bayside Gazette he planned to move out of the area.
“There is nothing in our rules that prohibit what this gentleman wanted to do,” ARC Chair Glenn Duffy said. “Given that, I’m not too sure what options we had. But we do not grant that many variances. It’s very few.
“The situation with the gentleman who was going to be an in-between for the transfer of firearms, there was no ammunition involved – that is an important fact. He was not doing any retail business. He was just a go-between and had all the federal permits and state permits and county permits required.”
In general terms, Duffy said the community does not allow retail businesses to operate within a home.
Duffy recalled another case when a person wanted to have a home-based retail store. His operation also would have included posting signs around the community and there were parking and traffic concerns, Duffy said.
“That is prohibited and we denied him the access and the ability to do that,” he said. “[Kosienski] was operating by appointment only, and we have functions in Ocean Pines that operate by appointment only.”
Manufacturing and industrial businesses, according to Duffy, are also forbidden under OPA rules.
Duffy was unsure exactly how many businesses operate within homes in Ocean Pines, but said “it’s a fair amount.”
“You have people who run accounting businesses out of their home, and that’s by appointment, or legal advice, that’s by appointment. We allow that kind of stuff. Not retail,” Duffy said.
Duffy was unsure when the ARC guidelines last went under review.
“Right now we’re in the process of reviewing our guidelines for signage, and that will be coming up in the not-too-distant future, but overall it’s been a while I’m sure,” he said, adding that he is satisfied overall with the current rules.
Duffy went on to say he did not believe the community would attempt to alter the guidelines after the short-lived drama surrounding the almost-was firearm business.
“If something has to be changed, I’m not too sure ARC is the place to change it. I’m not too sure the county and the state aren’t the place to change it,” Duffy said. “Right now, according to the state and the county, if you want to open this type of a business in a residential area, it’s perfectly legal. The question is, should that continue? And that is beyond my pay grade.”
The ARC is a two-person committee of Duffy and Lisa Schwartz, something that could present problems in the future.
“We are continually looking for a third person,” Duffy said. “We have a problem with two people. If we both agree, everything is fine. If we disagree, we have a problem because there is no third person to come in and assist us in our deliberation yet.”
Duffy added that, so far, he and Schwartz have not had such an impasse on the committee.
Applications for the ARC are available at the front desk of the administration building on 239 Ocean Parkway.