Special events planned for Bowlingly estate
QUEENSTOWN — The town’s Planning Commission has recommended approval for the historic Bowlingly estate to hold special events, but with conditions attached, and the proposal heads to the Board of Appeals for consideration there.
Seventeen residents signed a petition, opposing the project.
Property owners, Sean and Kellee Glass of Washington, D.C., have proposed using the estate for special events like weddings, anniversaries and birthday celebrations. They need a special exception for the project, called the Bowlingly Events Center.
On Wednesday, Sept. 7, the planning commissioners unanimously recommended approval after they discussed concerns about the crowd size, who will be in charge of events, parking and the affect on Queenstown’s quiet atmosphere.
The commission forwarded several suggestions to the appeals board, including limiting the number of attendees to 300 people per event, requiring a transportation plan with parking, a site plan showing facilities for events and contact information for a person responsible for events held there.
On the Bowlingly property on Maryland Avenue, there’s a Georgian mansion which was built in 1733 and is one of the oldest dated structures on the Mid-Shore. The house is on the National Register of Historic Places and sits on 10 acres of land with frontage on Queenstown Creek.
At the planning commission meeting, Sean Glass spoke about the couple’s plans for the property. He said parking is limited there, but he expects buses to drop off and pick up people who attend the events, and he’s aware of the noise ordinance, which is different on weekdays and weekends.
One woman in the audience suggested limiting the events to weekends, but a commission official said it was up to the appeals board to set such conditions. The commission only acts in an advisory capacity.
A petition in opposition, signed by 17 nearby residents, was submitted to the town government. The petition reads, “We the signed below are against any zoning changes, to permit any changes in Bowlingly current zoning. We enjoy Queenstown as a small town community not as an event sight (sic) for weddings, etc.”
Nobody in the audience at the commission’s meeting identified themselves as one of the petition signers. Only a couple of residents in the audience spoke about it.
The commission’s chairman, Hogie Schuster, lives across the street from the property. He said he doesn’t have a problem with the proposal. “I think it’s a great use,” he said after the meeting.
The town’s appeals board meets as needed. Before that board hears the proposal, the property owners must submit paperwork, pay a fee, and the hearing must be advertised to notify the public.
The proposal, which was submitted in writing to the Planning Commission, details plans for the project.
Events with more than 50 attendees will take place outdoors with very limited access to the house and outbuildings. Peak usage will be April through June and September through October on weekends. The property will be available for renters from 9 a.m. to 11:45 p.m. on the day of the event, the proposal said.
Setup and takedown of tents and other rented gear may take place days prior to or after the event. Limited weekday rentals for corporate retreats and the alike will be available as well, but will take place between 8 a.m. and 6 p.m. typically on weekdays, the proposal said.
The Bowlingly property, which has been renovated several times, is rich with history. According to previously published articles, British troops in 1813, under the command of Sir Charles James Napier, landed on the grounds of Bowlingly and attempted to overwhelm American forces.
The soldiers vandalized the house and took jewelry and other fittings. Following several skirmishes, including one at Slippery Hill on present-day Route 18, the British were forced to retreat to their base on Kent Island.
The Bowlingly estate on Maryland Avenue in Queenstown was built in 1733. The current property owners want to make it into an events center.