Dear Residents/Neighbors on the Canal,
It was very nice to meet many of you in person yesterday at the Board of Port Wardens hearing. We recognize the fact that there are likely a number of other neighbors that share similar objections to our desire to run a water taxi business that were not able to make the meeting because of schedules, etc… (it was a mid-day meeting.)
For our part, it was, and continues to be, an educational experience. We listened very carefully to your objections and have read every single letter sent in on the issue. Suffice to say that it is difficult enough to start a new business and try to develop something that people will pay for… when there are “headwinds” against you- it feels twice as daunting!
Nevertheless, we are going to move on in the process to get a “Conditional Use” permit to operate our OC Bay Hoppers out of the canal and next to the kiosk location. We are sure your objections will be heard again.
But we did want to take a moment to address a few things that came up in the letters and public testimony to “clear the air.”
First, we have no intention of running a 50’ sailing catamaran out of the canal. The logistics don’t work. It is impossible. (canal width, Route 90 bridge, etc..) We believe this misunderstanding might be because of the OC Today article or perhaps because our company, Blue Bimini, also intends to run sailing charters at the Ocean City Inlet. To date, we have not found a location for that service but under no circumstances do we intend to run anything but OC Bay Hoppers (2) from the canal location.
Second, we have never operated our business illegally. As we explained at the hearing, under oath, we have sought City approval for our business at every step. Before signing the lease at the kiosk we received written approval that we could operate there. We now understand that this was a mistake- the City decided later that we would need a “Conditional Use” permit. It is important to us that our neighbors know who we are, and know the kind of neighbors we intend to be. This would never start well if we tried to slyly operate without permission. (and we agree that the “cart was put before the horse” with yesterday’s hearing, but we did not get the Conditional Use letter until after the port warden’s hearing date was set…)
Finally, we want to address your concerns around safety and the effect of our business on the canal. We believe the kiosk location is ideal for our business. But even more importantly, we believe that having a thriving business on the canal will bring more safety and awareness about the health of the canal then the state in which we found it. We intend to operate slowly and safely on the canal, and we also intend to do our part to look after the cleanliness of the surrounding areas. Our belief is that having a vigilant neighbor operating there is far superior than the situation we inherited.
In no way do we expect these things to change your mind if you object to our business. That is your right and there are many objections (run this on someone else’s canal, we don’t want the boat traffic, you will have to run through a residential neighborhood) that are understandable. We understand those objections, but respectfully disagree with them.
No matter what happens, we will do our best to be good neighbors- that is a firm promise.
The OC Bay Hopper Team