(UPDATE) Council seeks Green Acres funding for Schilling Estate

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OCEAN CITY — City Council passed a resolution at its Thursday, Feb. 9, meeting authorizing a Green Acres application and agreement with the state Department of Environmental Protection to acquire beachfront property known as the Schilling property.

Council last took up the issue at its Nov. 15 meeting in closed session. After, a letter was sent from council to the DEP with questions regarding the project being that it is an existing dune that was built up through beach replenishment projects funded by taxpayers.

The property, at 19th Street and the beach, is owned by the estate of Helen Schilling, former owner of Shriver’s Salt Water Taffy and Fudge and many other local businesses. She purchased the property more than 50 years ago. The land was considered unbuildable because of flooding issues, but in 1992, a beach replenishment project by the Army Corps of Engineers raised the land 10 feet.

Schilling died in 1998 and the property, now part of her estate, filed for a permit to construct a single family home on the property. At first the DEP denied the CAFRA permit, but in 2008, they reconsidered when the estate sued.

The DEP sent out a notice of intent to permit and a 30-day review period began in October, ending Nov. 18. According to DEP spokesperson Lawrence Hajna, the permit is still under review.

Council President Michael Allegretto said Feb. 7 that council is just seeing if the DEP would allow the land to be purchased using Green Acres funding.

“Really we’re just exploring our options,” he said. “In order to ask Green Acres if they would consider a project, we have to pass a resolution … This comes from the administration and discussion with the neighbors and the current owner of the property.”

The resolution requests $1.2 million from Green Acres, which would be in the form of a 25 percent grant, 75 percent loan. Allegretto said only the administration can negotiate with the seller directly, so this is just the first step.

Ocean City business administrator Michael Dattilo issued the following statement on behalf of the city administration:

“There is a resolution on the agenda for the City Council Meeting of Feb. 9 authorizing a Green Acres grant application for the acquisition of the Schilling Estate’s property at 19th Street and the beach. If grant funds are awarded, they could be combined with additional funds contributed by neighboring property owners to potentially acquire the property. Should the property be acquired by a combination of grant and private funds, it is anticipated that the entire parcel would ultimately be placed on the city’s Green Acres inventory. This would prevent the property from being developed.

Due to the continued possibility of litigation in regard to this matter, this will be the extent of the administration’s comments at this time.”

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