Nick’s Dewey Dino Golf could soon replace the burned-out structures that once housed Ed’s Chicken and Crabs at the corner of Coastal Highway and Swedes Street.
Dewey commissioners voted unanimously April 13 to have the planning and zoning commission consider a conditional use for miniature golf, but only after some debate on whether mini golf in the town’s RB2 district required a zoning code change or conditional use permit.
Nick Geracimos, who owns five mini golf locations in Ocean City, said he plans to sign a long-term lease and invest significantly in the property.
Geracimos attorney Glenn Mandalas said the location at the entrance to Dewey Beach is perfect for a family-friendly activity and that cleaning up the property aligns with the town’s comprehensive plan.
Commissioner Gary Persinger asked Mandalas why his client did not submit a conditional-use application. The proposed golf course is located in the RB2 district, where it would require a conditional use. Approving a conditional use requires a public hearing.
Mandalas said the code states RB2 district is the middle-level of commercial development density, which seems a good fit for mini golf. His client is seeking a code change to accommodate only mini golf as a permitted use in RB 2.
Persinger said the client would be better served through the conditional-use process. Certain conditions might be necessary, he said, such as those relating to noise, lights and stormwater runoff.
“They want us to change the code rather than work within existing code,” said Persinger, who added he would vote against changing code. “I just think this is the wrong process.”
Persinger said while a golf course is a great idea, a different business could take over in the future, and any conditions established would be carried over to the next business.
Commissioner Dale Cooke said he, too, wants the mini golf course, but also favors a conditional use.
“Are you saying if we follow our present regulations and you have to go through the planning and zoning process, that you would not be opening in Dewey?” Cooke asked.
Mandalas said his client has committed to the location and would follow whatever process is needed.
Interrupting Cooke, Mayor TJ Redefer said, “My goal for today is to find the most efficient way to do this right.”
Cooke said it was best not to change laws. “My goal is to do it according to our regulations.”
Redefer said he understood and respected Dewey’s laws and ordinances.
“I don’t want you to think by saying I want this to be done efficiently that I in any way want to skirt any of those laws or ordinances,” Redefer said.
Cooke said a planning and zoning hearing should have been requested. “We want him here under the guise of our present laws and regulations.”
Commissioner David Moskowitz’s motion to send the issue to planning and zoning to consider mini golf a conditional use in the RB 2 district passed unanimously.
The planning and zoning commission public hearing is set for 6 p.m., Friday, May 3 at the Lifesaving Station.