Residents Oppose Liquor License Change

FENWICK ISLAND – Citing written opposition from nearby property owners, Delaware’s alcoholic beverage control commissioner will hold a public hearing on a local restaurant’s request for a liquor license amendment.

On April 12, the Office of the Alcoholic Beverage Control Commissioner (OABCC) will hold a virtual hearing on a protested application from Matt’s Fish Camp, located in Fenwick Island. While the licensee – MFC Fenwick LLC – is seeking 10 additional barstool seats at its restaurant, those opposing the changes voiced their concerns about parking and neighborhood disturbances.

“MFC Fenwick LLC, a subsidiary of the conglomerate better known as SoDel Concepts, and more specifically, Matt’s Fish Camp, has been breaking the rules of Fenwick Island, Delaware since purchasing their first restaurant here in 2021,” property owner Jonathan Welsh wrote in his protest to the OABCC. “Whether parking illegally in the commercial and residential zone, parking and gathering in empty residential lots during and after work to smoke and hang out, overserving patrons, or blocking Atlantic Street (just south of Matt’s Fish Camp) with their cars during renovation, there has been no end to their torment.”

Welsh argued the additional barstool seating would encourage the alleged disturbances to continue.

“MFC Fenwick LLC has shown an inability to manage the current space they operate and show no signs of improving,” he wrote.

The OABCC also received written complaints from property owners Gail Warburton and Janice Bortner, a member of the Fenwick Island Town Council.

“I’m against any more accommodation for additional seating at this location since there isn’t adequate parking for the patrons and staff already,” Bortner wrote. “This will create a negative impact on residential neighbors.”

In recent months, parking at Matt’s Fish Camp has been at the center of a debate about commercial off-street parking in Fenwick. And last month, the town council voted unanimously to change its commercial parking ratios in an effort to address a growing parking problem. Mayor Natalie Magdeburger said changes made to an ordinance in 2013 had eroded the town’s parking space requirements to the point they no longer met the needs of the business community.

“What that did, in context, was that you had a 212-capacity restaurant built immediately after that ordinance change that had employees of 20 to 30 people and was only required to have 29 parking spaces,” she said last month.

The OABCC will hold its public hearing April 12 at 5 p.m. Matt’s Fish Camp did not respond to requests for comment this week.

About The Author: Bethany Hooper

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Bethany Hooper has been with The Dispatch since 2016. She currently covers various general stories. Hooper graduated from Stephen Decatur High School in 2012 and the University of Maryland in 2016, where she completed double majors in journalism and economics.