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Talks Continue on Klause Property as Demolition Begins

Demolition of a former car dealership building began recently. The property has been approved for residential development

By Bill Barlow

OCEAN CITY – With crews demolishing the former car dealership on 16th Street and Haven Avenue, and a banner displayed across a fence promising new home construction for the site, residents want to know what’s happening with a city plan to purchase the property.
At Ocean City Council’s Dec. 12 meeting, Council President Peter Madden requested an update from the administration.
“I can report to council that we are in negotiations with the property owners. It is the city’s preference to acquire the property through negotiation, but we are prepared to proceed with condemnation,” said city Attorney Dorothy McCrosson.
She continued that the negotiations underway have the context of condemnation. “If the negotiations are not successful, we will proceed,” she added.
Cities and other public entities have the right to take property for public use, even against the owner’s will, under a process known as eminent domain. Property owners must be paid fair market value for the land.
“The mayor’s concept is to preserve the space as open space, with some parking to support the adjoining Aquatic and Fitness Center and library,” said McCrosson. The city has a basic concept of plans for the property, she said, with plans to announce the date of a long-discussed town hall meeting on the proposal set to be announced at the next council meeting, planned for 1 p.m., Dec. 30.
Last year, the city had a $9 million deal to buy the portion of the property owned by Klause Enterprises, but that deal collapsed after the organization Fairness In Taxes challenged the bond ordinance, funding it through a petition drive. Other families also own property on the block, which operated as a car dealership from the 1930s until it closed in the winter of 2018.
The Planning Board has approved an application by Klause Enterprises to develop the property for 21 single-family homes.

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