New busi­ness plan asked, sec­ond hear­ing set on Bowl­ingly

Record Observer - - News - By HAN­NAH COMBS hcombs@kibay­

QUEEN­STOWN — The new own­ers of Bowl­ingly Es­tate, Sean and Kellee Glass from Wash­ing­ton D.C., Key West, Fla., and San Fran­cisco, Cal., sub­mit­ted a plan to the Queen­stown Board of Ap­peals to hold large wed­dings and cor­po­rate events with up to 300 guests on the es­tate dur­ing the week and on week­ends.

The plan — which is now be­ing re­viewed by the town’s board of ap­peals pend­ing a sec­ond hear­ing and ad­di­tional in­for­ma­tion — was dis­cussed at a pub­lic hear­ing on Wed­nes­day, July 19. Res­i­dents — both in fa­vor of and against the ap­peal — brought their com­ments and con­cerns to the Ap­peals Board for their con­sid­er­a­tion be­fore the fi­nal vote on the Glass’ plan.

The Friends of Queen­stown, a cit­i­zens group con­cerned about the ap­peal go­ing for­ward said thy have gath­ered just un­der 100 signatures on their pe­ti­tion (ap­prox­i­mately 1/6 of the town’s pop­u­la­tion) who are op­pose the Bowl­ingly Es­tate as an “event cen­ter.”

“Our pri­mary con­cerns,” said Su­san May­berry on be­half of the Friends, “are for pub­lic safety and for the preser­va­tion of Queen­stown as a his­toric vil­lage on the Eastern Shore. Within 10 miles of Queen Anne’s County, we have many other event cen­ters which are in bet­ter lo­ca­tions and are not within a res­i­den­tial area and his­toric vil­lage, where they would have dele­te­ri­ous im­pacts to the com­mu­nity.”

Sean Glass spoke on be­half of him­self and his wife Kellee,. He said, “We think of Bowl­ingly as a home and are not try­ing to make it a pri­mary com­mer­cial use.” Glass said they in­tended to hold a max­i­mum of 15 events per year, with a max­i­mum num­ber of 300 guests in at­ten­dance per event. In all like­li­hood, Glass said the ma­jor­ity of the events held would be closer to 50 guests or less.

Glass also said that while they were aware of the ne­glect to the home and large trees sur­round­ing the home when they pur­chased it — the es­tate was pur­chased on short sale — he and his wife do want to see it re­stored to the po­ten­tial it could be. To that end, Glass said, they have hired two in­di­vid­u­als full-time for the prop­erty and are look­ing for a way for the prop­erty to pro­duce some in­come to off­set some of those main­te­nance ex­penses. The es­tate is not the Glasses pri­mary res­i­dence.

“We are sen­si­tive to the is­sues of park­ing and noise,” said Glass, adding he was not aware un­til af­ter the fact that the event held in June of this year had posed as much of a prob­lem as it did.

“We did tell peo­ple [ahead of the event] about park­ing [re­stric­tions],” said Glass.

For the Ap­peals Board, John Fitzger­ald in­quired about a de­signee for each event — some­one the town could be in con­tact with prior to the event (were such per­mis­sion granted) and dur­ing the event, in case a prob­lem did arise. Prefer­ably, the town would de­sire this con­tact per­son to be on­site. Ini­tial plans sug­gested Kellee Glass to be the point of con­tact, but did not guar­an­tee her avail­abil­ity on lo­ca­tion.

The town also voiced con­cerns over the max­i­mum ca­pac­ity.

“Three hundred peo­ple in a town of 653 seems ex­ces­sive,” said Fitzger­ald. “Think about scal­ing that back.”

Other con­cerns cen­tered around how to park and ac­com­mo­date the 180 ve­hi­cles listed on the Glass’ ap­peal re­quest, cater­ing ve­hi­cles and other sup­port equip­ment, trash re­moval, and a path­way or clear­ance for emer­gency ve­hi­cles. Ques­tions were also raised should the Glasses con­sider hav­ing pay­ing overnight guests.

Ac­cord­ing to Glass, the es­tate is able to ac­com­mo­date 13 with sleep­ing ar­range­ments and has eight bath­rooms.

Joan Col­lier, a res­i­dent of Queen­stown, said she had lived 88 years on Del Rhodes Av­enue. “Th­ese gen­tle­men in front have asked ap­pro­pri­ate ques­tions,” she said of the Ap­peals Board. “I am sat­is­fied ei­ther way [with their de­ci­sion], good ques­tions, which will be an­swered sat­is­fac­to­rily.”

Linda Roberson of Still­wa­ter Bed and Break­fast in Queen­stown said the town has al­ways been open to “out­siders” cit­ing the vis­i­tors she hosts, those who come for the Queen­stown out­lets, and var­i­ous so­cial events the town hosts through­out the year, in­clud­ing bon­fires, fire­works and so­cial events dock­side, and ham and oys­ter roasts at the church. Park­ing is al­ways an is­sue, said Roberson, but added that when the town is con­sid­er­ing the ap­peal, she would be very of­fended if she were to be told she could not host 55 or 60 friends and fam­ily at her own home.

Mary Mar­garet Revell Good­win of Centreville, named county his­to­rian by the county com­mis­sion­ers, ad­dressed the board.

“His­toric prop­er­ties get de­mol­ished here in this county, maybe as of­ten as one a month,” said Revell Good­win. “It costs money to keep up a his­toric prop­erty.”

What is be­ing pro­posed by the Glasses, she said, would be a tremen­dous use of the prop­erty, show­ing Amer­ica some­thing valu­able about Queen Anne’s County and its his­tor­i­cal sig­nif­i­cance to the coun­try. Revell Good­win did not note she be­lieved 300 guests were too many for one event.

Many res­i­dents voiced their con­cerns about safety. Be­cause Queen­stown does not have a po­lice force of its own a very real con­cern is guests who may be­come in­tox­i­cated and wan­der off the prop­erty, which is di­rectly ad­ja­cent to many pri­vate homes, they said. Re­sound­ingly, the board heard re­quests that any de­ci­sion they make re­flect a way to en­sure the town re­main peace­ful and safe.

The Glasses have been re­quested by the town to sub­mit a new busi­ness plan by Sept. 8, ad­dress­ing ques­tions raised at the first hear­ing, and an­other Board of Ap­peals hear­ing is set for Sept. 20 at Cav­alry United Methodist Church.

Bowl­ingly was built in 1733 and is one of the old­est dated struc­tures on the Mid-Shore.

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