Middletown Approves Hotel Tax And Hatchet-Throwing Venues

The Middletown Mayor and Council approved a hotel tax, and approved two hatchet-throwing venues during a full agenda at the August 6 council meeting. They also successfully stopped a phishing attempt designed to get information from local businesses.

Prior to starting the meeting, Mayor Ken Branner announced that late in the day on Monday, Aug 6, they were made aware of a hacking attempt where Middletown businesses were getting e-mails from a town e-mail address urging them to take care of an urgent matter with the town and seeking private information. Branner said the e-mails were not coming from the town and urged anyone receiving an e-mail to delete them. He said the town was quickly able to catch the hacking attempt.

The town council unanimously approved a 3% hotel tax after the state passed legislation allowing municipalities to pass the tax. The town council also unanimously passed a water customer charge rate that is a part of the Fiscal Year 2019 budget. The charge will be primarily used for water meter replacement and will work out to around $1.64 a month per resident.

The mayor and council approved several conditional use permits including the much anticipated hatchet-throwing venues. Despite some concerns about alcohol sales and safety issues, the council unanimously voted to approve Stumpy’s Hatchet House at 819 Middletown-Warwick Road, Building E-2. Stumpy’s representative Milton Delgado said that alcohol sales are limited to 2 drinks an hour and that patrons are only there during a tightly scheduled period and stressed the venue is not a bar. Delgado said that all patrons at Stumpy’s will be 21 or older. The council also approved Camp Hatchet-Project Escape, a combined hatchet-throwing venue and escape room that will be geared toward younger patrons and will not serve alcohol. Those 12 and up will be able to participate in the hatchet-tossing which is the age limit set by their insurance carrier and kids 8 and up can participate in the escape rooms. Other conditional use permits approved were for Blue Hen Insurance to use the Re-Max Office at 100 S. Broad Street; for Technical Media Solutions to use warehouse space at 116 Sleepy Hollow Drive; for Green Hill Car Wash to open an auto and truck accessory business at 128 Patriot Drive; for Game Central Station to put an indoor gaming center at 108 Patriot Drive; for Athens Paper to use 705 Industrial Drive (the old McDermott Property) for storage and shipment of paper products; and for Volunteer Brewing Company at 120 W. Main Street to have food trucks on their property for special events.

One conditional use request that was not approved was for Island Girl Crab Company to sell live and streamed crabs at Village Wines and Spirits at 211 Middletown-Warwick Road (Rt. 301). After an initial concern from Vice Mayor James Reynolds about people parking alongside Rt. 301 rather than pulling into the parking lot off Ash Blvd., Mayor Ken Branner said that selling food from a trailer sounds like a food truck which would require them to be licensed as a food truck. Branner said there have been issues in the past with unlicensed food trucks taking business away from local restaurants and he didn’t want to go through this again. The council voted unanimously to deny the request.

Also approved were preliminary major land development plans for Phase II of the Middletown Market Place at the corner of W, Main Street and Peterson Road; for Reybold Self Storage and Retail Center at the Summit Plaza Shopping Center and a revised preliminary major land development plan for the Harley-Davidson dealership in the Westown Business Park that simply reorients the building. The town also approved record major land development plans for a Microtel Hotel at the intersection of Rt. 301 and Doc Levinson Drive and a plan for 27 single family lots at Middletown Village near Choptank and Bunker Hill Roads. This would complete the Middletown Village development that has been on hold due to the Mainline Rt. 301 Project. The developer asked for a waiver on cul-de-sac size to make the new section match the previous section’s cul-de-sacs which were approved prior to the town mandating larger cul-de-sacs. Mayor Branner said the new regulations are to ensure that the fire company’s new ladder trucks will be able to access the cul-de-sacs. The council approved the plan without the requested cul-de-sac waiver.

A public assembly request for the Union Soccer Club to use Silver Lake Park on Sept. 9 was tabled. Capt, William Texter of the Middletown Police Depart delivered the police report highlighting numerous armed robberies from the month of July and being linked to one individual who has been arrested and is currently incarcerated. Capt. Texter also said that the Police Department is applying for a U.S. Department of Justice Grant of $12,265 which would fund updates to their radios. Daneya Jacobs of Middletown Main Street gave her report and thanked residents who came out to the August 3 Music on Main and Car Show and announced a guest bartender fundraiser scheduled for August 29 at the Metro Pub.

Photos of mayor and council and (l-r) Hector Carrera and Milton Delgado of Stumpy’s: credited to Keith Thompson      

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