ABCC considers taproom

Delaware Alcoholic Beverage Control Commission (ABCC) Members reviewed the “Scotty’s Bayside Tavern” liquor license application for a “taproom” on Route 54 on May 9. They heard testimony from several supporters, and numerous complainants from the neighboring Keenwick Sound development.

Commissioner John H. Cordrey noted the substantial amount of information at the hearing’s conclusion and reserved his decision, saying he’d send letters to everyone who’d spoken, for or against.

Scotty’s Bayside Tavern would be located in the West Fenwick Station, adjacent to Blue Water Run West — the entrance to Keenwick Sound.

The applicants do not intend to serve food at the tavern — rather, it’s intended as a watering hole, with activities like darts and shuffleboard.

They have plans to open this August — but not without a liquor license.

Attorney Ron Stoner represented the applicants — “AB Fenwick” and proprietor William Sharp.

Stoner outlined Sharp’s experience in the bar business, and asked him if the ABCC had ever shut down one of his operations.

Sharp replied in the negative. The neighbors’ attorney, Robert Witsil, later asked if he’d ever received an ABCC violation, and Sharp said he had, but only recalled three in 15 years.

He stated his intention to run a small (2,600 square feet) bar for residents in the immediate area, citing a need since the 15,000-square-foot Bay Café closed.

Sharp said he’d polled surrounding businesses, and friends and acquaintances from the area, and received a lot of positive comments.

One of the neighbors, Carolyn Tryhubenko, spoke in the applicants’ support. She said local choices were limited to either Smitty McGee’s or Crab Daddy’s.

Tryhubenko said she frequently walked to the gym (Hall’s American Health & Fitness), at the other end of the mall, and liked the idea of having a place to stop for a beer on the way home.

Another neighbor, Tom Neidenbach, said he’d originally signed a petition in opposition because he was concerned about parking, but felt that issue had been resolved. He said he’d signed the petition in support when that came around.

Both sides garnered approximately 200 signatures. However, AB Fenwick’s petition included names from Millsboro to Ocean View to Ocean City.

The opposition’s petition listed only neighbors from the immediate vicinity, and nearly 30 of those residents came to the meeting to show their opposition.

Tina Gugliotta said there was already a problem with cars turning into the West Fenwick Station from Route 54 — the entrance was so close to the highway that drivers’ turn signals didn’t shut off until they were halfway past the entrance.

Gugliotta said she’d had some near misses as mall patrons pulled out of the lot in front of her, mistakenly thinking she was turning in.

Leslie Grow, a Delaware State Police (DSP) officer for 16 years, said the proposed Scotty’s Bayside Tavern was 120 feet from his front door.

With two daughters, he was concerned about what kind of language or behavior they might be exposed to.

“My biggest concern is patrons who are unable to control their alcohol intake,” Grow said. “This place would be a great safety risk for my children, and the residents of Keenwick Sound.”

Stoner argued his clients had a legal right to run a tavern, and the neighbors had known they were located next to a commercial site. However, Witsil said it was an unusual application, in that the tavern would be technically within the Keenwick Sound development. (The mall owners hold an easement along the short stretch of Blue Water Run West between Route 54 and the mall entrance.)