Guerrieri Hall

The building at Wor-Wic Community College where the public hearing in March was held. 

OCEAN CITY, Md. -- Eastern Shore lawmakers are frustrated with a recent public hearing. The issue isn't about the hearing itself, but where it was held. 

Back in March, a proposed project for the West Ocean City Harbor was discussed at Wor-Wic Community College in Salisbury. Neighbors talked about US Winds plans for a new pier. 

Because that hearing was held about 30 minutes away from Ocean City, lawmakers feel it alienated the people who will be impacted the most. 

"Why would they hold it in Wicomico County?" questioned Congressman Andy Harris. "I mean you'd think they would hold it as close as possible to as many people who would be affected by that development, which really is the Ocean City area." 

The plans in question would add a concrete deck, jib crane and other reinforcing materials to the existing pier in the West Ocean City Harbor. It's an area commercial fisherman rely on, so they want to make sure they're being kept in the loop. 

"Whether we like it or not at least let us know, the public should have the right to know what they're going to do down at this harbor," said Sonny Gwin. 

Jay Apperson, a spokesperson for the Maryland Department of the Environment, the state agency who held the public hearing, did provide us with a statement on Thursday. 

The Maryland Department of the Environment is complying with the requirements under state law (Maryland Environment Article 5-204 c) for public participation in the review of this tidal wetlands license application. We opened the public comment period on February 15 and that period initially closed April 9. However, recognizing public interest in participating in the public process, we have extended the public comment period to June 7. All public comment, whether given by oral or written testimony, is given the same serious consideration by MDE when evaluating a project application.

However, Ocean City's Mayor Rick Meehan said that testimony could have been better heard if the hearing was held closer to home. 

"I think they would get a better turnout and really hear a little bit more about the concerns of the local community, which I would think would be what they were looking for to begin with," said Meehan.