Members Want Pride of Dover Elks Lodge in Dover Re-Opened - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Members Want Pride of Dover Elks Lodge in Dover Re-Opened

Posted: 12/06/2017 18:13:00 -05:00 Updated:

DOVER, Del. --- Members and officers of the Pride of Dover Elks Lodge #1125 in Dover are asking the city for permission to re-open the club.

Officials with Dover's Design Advisory Committee on Wednesday discussed an application for a conditional use permit aimed at re-opening the lodge, which was ordered shut by the city in January. Many neighbors had long complained the club's visitors were responsible for too much noise, litter, fights, and even gun violence.

"We want to be peaceful neighbors," said Jane Downs, a longtime member of the club, who attended Wednesday's DAC meeting and pledged in an interview that officers would address the causes behind the nuisance complaints.

The club was shuttered after the city's former planning director, Ann Marie Townshend, wrote to the lodge's head officer that it violated laws on non-conforming uses.

In her letter, Townshend wrote the city had been informed by the Delaware Division of Alcohol and Tobacco that undercover agents were able to enter the club without a sponsor, paid cover, and were able to purchase alcohol.

"This is contrary to assurances provided by you and others on behalf of the lodge, and it documents that the property houses a nonconforming use that is required to comply with the requirements of the zoning ordinance," she wrote.

Re-opening the club could take a long time, Downs said, because there will be a number of approvals required by city officials and Dover's fire marshal. The club's liquor license was also suspended.

But Downs said she didn't want to see the club revert to what it was before the closure.

"Members will be in charge of who they bring there and they'll be responsible for them," she said.

But some neighbors have said they fear a significant amount of crime will return to Kirkwood Street if the club re-opens.

Bonnie Pennington, a captain with the neighborhood watch for Kirkwood Street, said she was collecting signatures for a petition to discourage the conditional use permit from being approved. The city's planning commission will consider the club's application at an upcoming meeting.

Since the club closed, Pennington said neighbors haven't been afraid to walk around Kirkwood Street at night.

"It's been so quiet I've sat out on my porch -- as cold as it is -- with a cup of hot cocoa in one hand and a newspaper in the other," she said.

Dover Councilman Roy Sudler, who represents the area, also said police data shows a significant drop in criminal complaints since the club's closure when compared to statistics from the previous year.

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