Dagsboro liquor store gets preliminary OK from council

DAGSBORO — Plans for an upscale liquor store along busy Vines Creek Road received Dagsboro town council’s non-unanimous stamp of approval on Sept. 21, but not before brewing concerns about traffic, public safety and building placement.

Council, during its virtual meeting, voted 3-1 in approving preliminary plans presented by Clay Snead/Snead’s Property and Carlton Savage of Scaled Engineering.

The proposed liquor store at 29471 Vines Creek Road would be located in Dagsboro’s town center district between Rosana’s Holistic Hair Salon and Heather’s Home Works, a short distance from the intersection split at Armory Road.

Final plans must meet various county and state agency requirements and will ultimately come back before town council.

Councilman William Chandler III opposed requested approval, citing inconstancy with existing businesses, concern for health, safety and welfare of citizens, location near a historic cemetery and structure and Prince George’s Chapel.

Additionally, Mr. Chandler said he does not want to set a precedent to allow the parking lot in the front and business in the rear. Dagsboro’s code for town center district requires a parking lot in back and the business/building in front.

Dagsboro’s planning and zoning commission voted to allow the switch, parking in front, in rendering its recommendation for approval.

“I am unwilling to set the precedent that I guess planning and zoning is willing to set,” Mr. Chandler said. “We require that all parking in the town center for new businesses be located in the rear of the property. I’m not willing to depart from that precedent. I think once we do part from it, we will have a hard time turning it down the next time we are asked to.”

Additional traffic and issues the liquor store could create was a concern.

Dagsboro Police Chief Steve Flood shared his views.

“The first thing I said was, ‘That is going to be a nightmare unless we put a traffic light there.’ I know that it is probably too close to the other main traffic light (SR 26/SR 20),” said Chief Flood.

The chief said it would “create some traffic accidents — absolutely. There is probably no way around that.” Chief Flood strongly urged high quality cameras inside and outside for a liquor store as well as lighting, which he called a “double edge sword because you have houses there.”

“It’s only going to get worse, not with just your business but it gets worse in the summertime and on the weekend,” said Mayor Baull, addressing Snead’s proposal. “Sometimes we decide to do things based on what the traffic is going to be like. DelDOT is the ultimate approval of that so when you work with them and they sign off on whatever plan goes I can certainly understand that.”

“It’s going to be a mess, but whatever goes in there is going to be a mess,” said councilwoman Theresa Ulrich. “If we want to put a business in, that’s what we’re going to have to deal with.”

Preliminary plans call for a 3,000-square-foot building in an initial phase, with room for expansion.

Mr. Chandler asked if his understanding is correct, that town center zoning code requires that the parking lot be to the rear of a building, and the building be fronting the road, with parking to the rear.

“No, you are correct,” said Mr. Gulbronson. “In the town center district, the code requires the building to be placed close to the road with parking on the side or in the rear, unless the planning commission finds a good reason for the building to be placed toward the rear. Planning commission members felt that it wouldn’t be a safe situation for the parking lot to be behind the building. That is the reason they advocated for it to be placed toward the rear with the parking in front.”

Mr. Chandler said he feels a liquor store doesn’t fit with the character of nearby historic amenities.

“I think it would be a more successful business where there is high volume traffic able to enter and exit, like on (US) 113,” said Mr. Chandler. “We had one not too long ago right out at Savannah Square that wanted to locate there. It met all of our zoning requirements, but because of the interest of public health and public safety and public morality, the council thought it was best not to approve that proposed business.”

Mr. Chandler opposed and Mayor Baull and council members Ulrich and Patrick Miller approved. Councilman Norwood Truitt did not attend.