Former Rookery North rezoning approved

Developer, Fins Hospitality working together to revitalize Milford property
February 28, 2023

A request to rezone a portion of the former Rookery North golf course has been approved by Milford City Council. 

Tim and Matt Johnson of Oak Forest Park LLC purchased the former Shawnee Country Club parcel in December. They’re working with Jeff Hamer of Fins Hospitality Group to revitalize the property, including reopening the 18-hole golf course and adding a new brewpub/restaurant in the former clubhouse. 

The Johnsons were seeking to rezone a 3.93-acre portion of the property from residential to neighborhood commercial. The rezoning would ensure Hamer could operate a brewpub/restaurant if the golf course relaunch is unsuccessful. If the rezoning was not granted, a brewpub/restaurant could have been granted via conditional use; however, if the golf course closed for any reason, the brewpub/restaurant would also have had to close. Because Hamer is planning to invest a significant amount of money into renovating the former clubhouse, he wanted to guarantee future operations. 

Council voted 7-1 Feb. 27 to approve the rezoning request. The vote followed a positive recommendation from the city’s planning commission Feb. 21. 

Councilman Dan Marabello was the lone no vote. He said he was concerned the commercial zoning opened up too many possibilities if the golf course and restaurant fail. He said it could be turned into a strip mall.

Fins Hospitality Group operates several restaurants in the Delaware resort area, including Big Oyster Brewery in Lewes, Fins Fish House and Raw Bar and Claws in downtown Rehoboth Beach, and Fins Ale House and Raw Bar on Route 1 north of Rehoboth Beach. The group also has restaurants in Bethany Beach and Fenwick Island. Big Oyster Brewery on Kings Highway in Lewes features a large outdoor area with a lot of outdoor seating, a playground and various games such as bocce ball, ping-pong and cornhole.

As for the golf course, the plan is to open the first nine holes, driving range and pro shop by Sept. 1. The final nine holes should be open by June 1, 2024. 

“Since the existing course layout will remain the same, all of our concentration will be on landscaping and refurbishing the greens, fairways, bunkers and irrigation systems,” said Tim Johnson.

The former pool house will be remodeled into the new pro shop, which will provide services for both golf and pickleball activities. 


Subscribe to the Daily Newsletter