During the summer of 2010, officers from the Ocean City Police Department responded to numerous complaints from citizens, businesses and private property owners relating to the illegal distribution of handbill advertisements by various pizza restaurants in Ocean City. In order to effectively capture the violations, the Ocean City Police Department systematically documented these complaints. Officers responding to calls for handbill flyer complaints were mandated to write a report and use a specific case number correlating to the respective pizza establishment in violation.
On April 13, 2011, three Ocean City pizza business owners were asked to appear before the Town of Ocean City Police Commission to address the repeated illegal advertising. These pizza shop owners were also advised to cease and desist the distribution of the flyers or be subject to a possible penalty under City Ordinance Sec. 14-38 “Suspension of Business License.” Of the four businesses, the offender with the most violations, “Marco Polo” pizza (previously named Mack’s Pizza) did not respond to nor appear.
After repeated citations and repeated warnings from the Police Department, condominiums and local hotels, “Marco Polo” pizza a has continued to violate the City ordinance.
On September 17, 2012, the Ocean City Police Department presented evidence at a hearing regarding business License #62131, issued to “Marco Polo” pizza. The evidence demonstrated repeated violations, complaints and calls for service regarding the distribution of handbill flyers and advertisements and resulting in multiple warnings and citations of the Town Code including:
Sec. 70-141. – Littering on public property.
- It shall be unlawful for any person or persons to throw, deposit, release or discharge, any sweepings, dust, ashes, offal, dirt, garbage, dirty liquids, advertisements, circulars, handbills, wastepaper, balloons or other material into any street, alley, air, waters, or public place within the corporate limits of the Town of Ocean City, Maryland. (Code 1972, § 62-1; Ord. No. 1999-31, 12-6-1999)
- Sec. 70-142. – Distribution of advertisements and handbills.
- It shall be unlawful for any person or persons to cast, throw, place or distribute any advertisements, circulars, handbills or wastepaper in the vestibules, doorways, porches or yards of private property or upon private vehicles, from which they may be blown upon and into the public streets, alleys or public places within the corporate limits of Ocean City.
During the hearing, the OCPD described 27 verified ordinance violations out 54 complaints occurring over the past two years. The business was officially warned in writing three separate times to stop the illegal practice of distribution of advertisements and handbills. As a result of the continued violations, the OCPD charged “Marco Polo” pizza eight separate times, which led to convictions in Ocean City District Court. The business continued the illegal practice the “distribution of advertisements and handbill” even after the District Court convictions.
As a result of these circumstances, City Manager for the Town of Ocean City, David L. Recor, has suspended the operator’s license for the business known as “Marco Polo” pizza for a period of 30-days as permitted by Section 14-33(a)3 of the Town Code.