Frederick board approves OTB at restaurant Sites considered in Calvert, Dorchester, Carroll counties

February 11, 1993|By Ross Peddicord | Ross Peddicord,Staff Writer

FREDERICK -- A network of off-track betting parlors, long envisioned by Maryland's racing industry, is closer to reality.

By a 6-1 vote yesterday, the Frederick County Planning Commission approved a site plan for the first proposed outlet at the Cracked Claw Restaurant near Urbana.

Tom Lattanzi, OTB project director for Laurel-Pimlico, said five other facilities have gained zoning and liquor board approval in their local jurisdictions and are considered likely sites.

They are the Ramada Inn Convention Center in Hagerstown; the Seahorses Restaurant in Solomons, Calvert County; Chesapeake Rod n' Reel Club in Chesapeake Beach, Calvert County; the Shoals Restaurant in Cambridge, Dorchester County; and the Westminster Inn in Westminster.


Racetrack operators have oral agreements on financial arrangements with Johnny Poole, owner of the Cracked Claw, which was formerly known as the Peter Pan Inn, and Frank Turner, operator of the Ramada Inn Convention Center.

under way Lattanzi explained that Martin Jacobs and Coleman Bean, attorneys for the thoroughbred and harness tracks, have almost completed work on the agreement.

"Since the contract with the Cracked Claw is the first one, it will be used as a model for other outlets. So they are making doubly sure that they are crossing all the t's and dotting all the i's," Lattanzi said.

Poole said he was relieved by the decision of the Frederick County board.

Two opponents of the Urbana site spoke at the meeting. Mike Low, president of the Parent-Teachers Association of the Urbana Elementary School, said his organization had concerns about safety for their children.

"I have two children, so I guess you'd say I'm in the kid business, not the racing business," Low said. He added that the school is located about a half-mile from the Cracked Claw and that increased traffic is a concern.

Sue Waterman, a member of the Urbana Civic Association, asked the panel to postpone its decision and give the matter more study.

However, acting on a motion proposed by planning board member Pete Adock, the commission gave approval to the project if access to the Cracked Claw from a proposed high school, which is scheduled to be built in about two years, is eliminated.

The only dissenting vote came from board member David Gray, who said he wanted to hear more resident input before granting approval.

Seymour Stern, Poole's attorney, told the board that wagering will be limited to a room holding eight to 10 mutuel machines. People at the restaurant will be able to watch the races from television monitors throughout the facility, but could make their bets only in that room.

The Cracked Claw can hold 800 people and has parking for nearly 300 cars. It is located about a five-minute drive from Frederick and is close to Interstate 270, with access to Germantown and Gaithersburg in Montgomery County.

Once Poole signs a contract with track operators, he will make a formal application with the Maryland Racing Commission. He then will undergo a series of financial and background checks. The commission also will hold a hearing within 10 miles of the site to listen to resident comments.

Low said the PTA will meet at the Urbana Elementary School Feb. 24 to discuss the proposed OTB parlor.

Poole said most residents of Urbana support the project.

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