The Brief (and hopefully only the beginning) History of the OC Bay Hopper
March, 2018- The Mayor and City Council adopt the 2018 Comprehensive Plan outlining a vision for Ocean City over the coming years. Encouraging and supporting a Water Taxi system is referenced no less than 11 times on 5 different sections!
April, 2018- The Blue Bimini team (that’s the name of our company) develops a plan to launch a Water Taxi/Shuttle system in Ocean City Maryland. Our first boat, the Blue Heron, is purchased.
June, 2018– The idea of running a Water Taxi/Shuttle service is socialized with various City Hall departments and personnel with encouragement.
July 2018– The Blue Heron is launched and two of our US Coast Guard licensed Captains spend the entire month learning the various canals and waterways so that we can safely operate our boats on the Assawoman Bay. On July 26th, the Blue Heron receives her COI (Certificate of Inspection) from the US Coast Guard and is approved for 19 passengers.
August 2018– Looking for a home for our operations, we come across the perfect location: the Kiosk at Ocean City Square Shopping Center on 118th Street. After receiving assurances that we are clear to run our business from that location, we sign our lease and the OC Bay Hopper has a home!
August/September 2018– We run trips out of our new home, and learn as much as possible in the 8 weeks we are able to run. We find people love Sunset Cruises, Fireworks on the water, Assateague tours and crabbing. Surf trips to Assateague are a bust. Mostly people just want to get to the many (24+) bars and restaurants on the bay in OC.
October/November 2018– We contemplate working with the city to really develop a comprehensive shuttle system that might include city owned piers for public access. We have some preliminary meetings that are positive, but then receive word that we need to be prepared to pay some fees for the rights to land at city piers. We decide to wait on that for a year.
December 31st, 2018– As we are working to handle an overlooked permit (all signage in OC must have a permit!) we learn that there is a least one letter that has been written objecting to our business and we will now be required to go through a “Conditional Use” permit. There is no guarantee that we can run our business from this location. We also learn that we can expect some neighborhood resistance to our plans.
(To this point, our interactions with neighbors on the canal had been pretty enthusiastic. Many expressed delight that we would be available next summer. When we learned that there was one person not happy with our business we immediately tried to reach out (twice) to figure what assurances we could make to be good neighbors. Once we started operations in the canal, we decided the speed limit (6 knots) seemed a bit too fast and kept our boats running with bare steerageway…)
January 10th, 2019 – The OC Bay Hopper team attends the Board of Port Wardens hearing to obtain approval to build a floating pier. The meeting is attended by 15-20 neighbors that are objecting to our business. (We also received their objection letters just prior to the meeting). We present our case for the pier and then listen carefully to their objections. At the hearing, but even more importantly, after the hearing we develop a response. At the end of the day, the Board of Port Wardens approve our floating pier but only on the condition that we receive a “Conditional Use” permit from the city. We must now prepare for a public hearing before the Ocean City Zoning and Planning Commission, who will then forward their decision, and the results of the public hearing, to the Mayor and City Council.
January 29th, 2019 – The Dispatch publishes an article titled Bay Taxi Service Seeks To Educate Community About Planned Operations.
February 20th, 2019 at 7:00pm – A public hearing will be held in the Council Chambers of City Hall located at Third Street and Baltimore Avenue in the Town of Ocean City, Maryland. The Planning and Zoning Commission will consider our Conditional Use Request to operate a Water Taxi business at 11703 Coastal Highway (File #19-12100001).
March 2019 – The Mayor and City Council will review a report from the Planning Commission and (hopefully) approve our Conditional Use.