On Tuesday, February 21 City of Milford’s Planing Commission heard a conditional use request from owner of the Milford Skating Center Carmen Kemper including the proposal of teen and adult dances. The conditional use presented to the Commission by Ms. Kemper included 32 requests for activities that the Skating Center would like to facilitate but that are not currently allowed under the current City Code.
The Milford Skating Center has been in operation since 1982 in downtown Milford and was purchased by Ms. Kemper in July 2011. It was brought to the attention of Ms. Kemper on December 22, 2011, when she was visited by City Code Enforcement Officer Lenard Denis, that the Milford Skating Center under the current City Code is only allowed to operate as a skating rink. The Code Enforcement Officer then explained to Ms. Kemper that she would need to submit a conditional use request to the City of Milford Planning Commission to be allowed to hold other activities at the location.
“We have never been questioned about how we are conducting our business or if the building was being used for any other use than roller skating,” commented Carmen at the Planning Commission hearing.
In the conditional use request from Ms. Kemper were 32 items which included both previously held functions at the Skating Center and several new activities. Among the new items for consideration was an extension of their hours of operation, creation of separate teen and adult dances and the allowance of alcoholic beverages at private parties.
One of the reasons given by Ms. Kemper to the Planning Commissions Board for the additional activities was to enhance her business and attract people from all over the Delmarva Peninsula to help with the current economic environment.
The main concerns heard from the Planning Commission members were directed at the adult dances that have been held at the Skating Center and the allowance of alcoholic beverages at future private parties. Some concerns stemmed from an incident that happened outside of the Skating Rink on October 30, 2011 when numerous individuals who had attended an adult dance at the rink were causing a problem outside the building.
Lieutenant Brown spoke on behalf of the Milford Police Department and their concerns over allowing adult dances at the Milford Skating Rink. Officer Brown defined what happened on October 30 as the result of what police call “roving night clubs.” These types of events are created by promoters at different venues to bring maximum attendees from surrounding area.
According to Lieutenant Brown on the night of October 30 the Fire Marshall told police that the allowed capacity of 299 individuals at the Skating Rink was surpassed; police records state that nearly 800 tickets were sold. With only 4 Milford officers on duty that evening, the Milford Police Department called in backup from the Delaware State Police to deal with the large, unruly crowd that was outside the rink. Police then shared with the Planning Commission the 911 calls that came into the police department on that evening. Officer Brown stated that it was a scary situation for the officers and one that would happen again if this type of “roving night clubs” were to continue.
“We are not opposed to the Milford Skating Center but opposed to a roving night club facility,” stated Lieutenant Brown.
After hearing the conditional use request from Carmen Kemper and the Milford Police Department concerns from Officer Brown, the Planning Commission made a motion to accept pieces of the conditional use request. Chairman of the Commission, Charles Rini, acknowledged that their were several activities under the conditional use request that would benefit the community but also shared concerns over specific items. Chairman Rini made a motion, that was seconded by Commissioner Archie Campbell, to accept the conditional use request with the following items being amended: The hours of operation for the Milford Skating Center will follow the current code of the City of Milford and the teen and adult dances will be allowed. The allowance of alcoholic beverages for private functions was not included in the acceptance of the conditional use. The request will be heard by the Milford City Council on Monday, March 26 at 7pm at City Hall.