OCEAN CITY — City Council started paying for Hurricane Sandy cleanup on Thursday night and began taking measures to better protect the island from future storms.
Looking back, the council approved five different cleanup-related resolutions, including nearly $161,000 for four firms to remediate 14 different city buildings and their contents, and about $246,800 for two companies that hauled debris off the island.
The total cleanup could cost the government $3 million or more, Finance Director Frank Donato said at a budget meeting earlier this week.
But the city won’t be making any money off charging people to repair their properties.
The council also introduced an ordinance that would waive permit and inspection fees for any property restoration work applications filed by May 24, basically formalizing a policy that has already been in effect since the storm hit Oct. 29.
Looking forward, another ordinance introduced Thursday night makes a number of technical zoning changes, with a key element being a requirement that new buildings have their first floors built a minimum of 2 feet above the base 100-year flood elevation.
Homes built at that height would have easily escaped Sandy’s damage on livable floors. It is part of a long list of recommended changes from the city Planning Board actually proposed before the storm hit.
Another contract the council approved authorizes advertising for specifications for the city to acquire military cargo trucks to be used in future emergencies.
The last resolution on the agenda was in support of beach replenishment for the island’s southern end, a project that residents there demanded at the last council meeting and have been advocating for years.
Some homeowners in that area believe they are neglected compared to the northern end of the island, which had been slated for a beach replenishment project prior to Sandy creating storm surges that breached the dunes in both the northern and southern parts of the island.
The tidal flooding from Sandy alone covered most of the island in water, but it was the storm surge breaking over the beaches that essentially covered the entire island.
The original plan for the northern end of the island was for more than a million cubic yards of sand to be added to the beach from Seaview Road south to 14th Street. It is the third major replenishment project planned in that area over the past four years.
The resolution is a nonbinding call on the Army Corps of Engineers to also consider the southern end as part of its replenishment plans.
“We have been in touch with federal and state officials on this issue and I assure you that we will do everything we can to make this happen,” Mayor Jay Gillian said.
The governing body met in the public library for the second time since the storm passed. The first floor of City Hall is closed because of water damage, so all the offices on that floor were moved to the council’s regular meeting room.
This time, the library meeting room was divided in half, the other half housing a FEMA disaster recovery center that has served nearly 600 people since opening Nov. 18.
In other business at Thursday’s meeting, the council approved a resolution paying for the demolition of the Bellevue Hotel, which was in danger of collapse and spectacularly caught fire during the demolition work at the end of September.
The final contract amount came to about $145,660, more than $12,000 less than originally estimated.
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