Dewey planning commissioners voted unanimously May 3 to recommend town council approve mini golf at the former site of Ed’s Chicken.
The recommendation to approve a conditional use for the property in the RB 2 district includes a caveat that commissioners consider hours, lighting and noise when they vote following a 9 a.m., May 11 public hearing.
Town zoning code defines the RB 2 district as the middle level of commercial development intensity with commercial land use or mixed-use structures.
Nick’s Dewey Dino Golf owner Nick Geracimos said mini golf will be open 9 a.m. to midnight, Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day, and will close at 10:30 p.m. if there are no customers for an hour.
Geracimos’ attorney, Glenn Mandalas, said mini golf will be an alcohol-free, family-friendly activity. The property is located within a flood zone and will have pervious areas for better drainage.
Mandalas said lighting will be directed down; multiple low-level speakers will provide light music and sounds at each hole.
Commissioner Rick Judge said he would prefer a more nautical theme, but Geracimos said dinosaurs never go out of style. Mandalas joked that they could borrow one of Mayor TJ Redefer’s Hawaiian shirts for a dinosaur, and Geracimos said landscaping will be more tropical.
Judge asked Geracimos, “What happens at 2 a.m. when people want to ride the dinosaurs?”
Geracimos said they would install fencing according to town code. From his seat in the audience, property owner Russell Catts said that was the town’s problem.
“I don’t like the town controlling everything that goes on here and try to micromanage what happens,” Catts said. “It just seems crazy.”
When asked by Mandalas if he favored the project, Catts hesitated, then said, “The money’s in beer.”
Chair Mike Harmer said he would suggest closing at 11 p.m., especially on weeknights.
“But recognize you’re in Dewey Beach,” Harmer said. “In Ocean City, I guess people are drinking just as much down there, but I just think there’s more localized walking drunkenness going on here.”
Judge said closing at midnight is not appropriate for a family-friendly oriented business.
“You might be better off closing at 11 p.m. and not getting the later crowd,” Judge said. “I’m not trying to hurt the business - I’m trying to protect the neighborhood.”
Town Counsel Fred Townsend suggested a cut-off time for new business; those currently playing at closing time could finish the course.
Harmer thanked Geracimos for bringing mini golf to Dewey.
“And the town thanks you,” he said. “I think.”