Booze News: Distilled in Room 215

A blog about the Baltimore City Liquor Board

What happened at the Liquor Board on July 11, 2013

Written by Kristine Dunkerton

Commissioner Smith, as Acting Chairwoman, led the hearings. Chairman Fogleman was not in attendance. During the first hearing, Acting Chairwoman Smith announced that all approvals are contingent upon the proper documentation being received. No vote breakdowns were announced, but the following posts reflect the assumption that Commissioner Smith and Commissioner Jones were in agreement on all votes, since a 1:1 vote would have presumably resulted in no decision.

The hearings are summarized below in the order in which they appeared on the public docket (as opposed to the order in which they occurred).

1:00 pm Docket:

Establishment address: 712-14 W. Mosher Street

Establishment Trade name: OK Grocery

Hearing Time: 1:10-1:12; 1:31-1:42

License type: A Beer & Wine (Package goods store, beer and light wine may be sold for consumption off-premises from 6 am to midnight, no Sunday sales)

Reason for hearing: Application to transfer ownership

Zoning (according to Baltimore CityView): R-8 (General Residence District)

Neighborhood (according to Baltimore CityView): Upton

Area demographics (as of 2010, from Baltimore Neighborhood Indicators Alliance (BNIA)): 92% Black, 4% White; 32% households have children under age 18; median household income: $13,835; 51% households live below the poverty line (highest poverty rate in Baltimore City)

Name of associated corporate entity: J Market, Inc.

Does the associated corporate entity exist and is it in good standing (according to the website of the Maryland State Department of Assessments and Taxation (SDAT))? Yes, yes

Location of associated corporate entity’s principal office: Baltimore City

Applicants’ criminal record: None

Attorney for licensee: Pete Prevas

# of people there in support of license: 2

Attorney for community: N/A

# of protestants: 0

# of inspectors present: 1 (Inspector Ray testified that the property had been properly posted [with a hearing notice])

Notes from hearing: The hearing began at 1:10, but as the applicants’ attorney had not yet arrived, was postponed for about 20 minutes. When the hearing began again, the applicant’s attorney said that this property was on the “hit list,” and Acting Chairwoman Smith clarified that the attorney meant the City’s rezoning plan [in which certain package good stores will lose their non-conforming zoning use]. One of the applicants was on the Dew Liquors license [a package goods store on Harford Road that was the subject of recent litigation when the Board denied a transfer application at a public hearing and then privately granted it] for about a year. The other applicant will be the full-time operator of the establishment.

Acting Chairwoman Smith went over the application, on which one of the applicants checked that he was neither a resident or taxpayer of Baltimore City [state law (Art. 2B § 9-101(b)) requires that at least one officer of a licensed corporation be a City resident and taxpayer]. The applicants’ attorney said that the wrong box had been checked, as one of applicants is a Baltimore City taxpayer, though he is not a resident. Acting Chairwoman Smith directed that the application needed to be amended, and the applicants amended it immediately. Acting Chairwoman Smith then verified through testimony that the three citizen signatories own property in Baltimore City and that the applicants have known all of them for more than 2 years. The applicants’ attorney reiterated a standing argument he has had since the Board began conducting public hearings on license transfers in which the only change is the licensee (he contends that Md Code Art. 2B Section 10-202(a) does not apply to ownership transfers). Commissioner Jones asked if the applicants met with anyone in the community. They did not. The applicants’ attorney then asked the applicants if they would meet with the neighborhood association and give out their cell phone numbers if the Board conditionally approved the license. The applicants said they would.

Result of hearing: Transfer approved. The applicants must notify the Liquor Board after contacting the relevant neighborhood association.

What the vote was: Commissioners Smith & Jones in favor

Portions of state law and/or Board Rules and Regulations Commissioners cited in decision: N/A

Other reasons Commissioners gave for decision: No neighborhood association present in opposition.

Issues raised in the audit present in this case: N/A

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Establishment address: 6902 Harford Road

Establishment Trade name: [Pending]

Hearing Time: 2:20 – 2:40 pm

License type: A Beer, Wine & Liquor (Package goods store, all alcohol may be sold for consumption off-premises from 6 am to midnight, no Sunday sales)

Reason for hearing: Application to transfer ownership

Zoning (according to Baltimore CityView): B-2-2 (Community Business District)

Neighborhood (according to Baltimore CityView): North Harford Road

Area demographics (as of 2010, from BNIA): 53% Black, 40% White; 3% Hispanic ethnicity; 32% households have children under age 18; median household income: $51,208; 9% households live below the poverty line

Name of associated corporate entity: New Chesley Liquors, LLC

Does the associated corporate entity exist and is it in good standing (according to SDAT’s website)? Yes, yes

Location of associated corporate entity’s principal office: Baltimore City

Attorneys for licensee: Gary Maslan for new licensee, Mr. Lee; John A. Pica, Jr. of Harris Jones Malone LLC for Mr. Kim, an individual with a financial interest in the license

# of people there in support of license: 2 (+ 4 in audience)

Attorney for community: N/A

# of community members present: 1 (Mike Hilliard of HARBEL Community Organization)

# of inspectors present: 2. Inspector Hyde testified that the property was posted [with a hearing notice] on June 10 and checked on June 19. Agent Fitzgerald testified that no sales were made after the establishment was closed.

Notes from hearing: The parties in this case (Mr. Lee, who wishes to acquire the license, and Mr. Kim, who has a financial interest in the license) came to a written agreement just before they went before the Board. Mr. Lee owns 6902 Harford Road, wants to transfer the license to his property, and has signed an MOU (Memorandum of Understanding) with HARBEL (who submitted a letter of no opposition). As applicant, Mr. Lee presented the Board with a letter of support from Delegate Branch. Mr. Lee used to operate the store with the license, but the license is not in operation now. Mr. Lee’s attorney said that the store has been closed for about a year and is on a hardship extension. The agreement between Mr. Kim and Mr. Lee provided that Mr. Lee would purchase all store inventory and the trade name, after obtaining a bulk transfer permit, and would make an immediate deposit into Mr. Pica’s firm’s escrow account. The agreement between Mr. Kim and Mr. Lee was read onto the record.

Mr. Hilliard, from HARBEL Community Organization, testified that Mr. Lee had contacted him and that he had put Mr. Lee in touch with the North Harford Road Community Association, whose president signed the MOU. The terms provide that the licensee will maintain exterior lighting, make repairs within 72 hours of being notified of them, keep the establishment clean and remove graffiti, discourage illegal activity, abstain from selling marijuana rolling papers, be a positive member of the community, not seek live entertainment, and remain a contact person for community members. Acting Chairwoman Smith confirmed that the applicant was comfortable with the expansive agreement terms and emphasized that the applicant could receive a fine, license suspension, or license revocation if he breaches the agreement.

Result of hearing: Transfer approved, contingent upon the completion of the terms of both agreements.

What the vote was: Commissioners Smith & Jones in favor

Portions of state law and/or Board Rules and Regulations Commissioners cited in decision: MD Code Article 2B § 10-202(a) (“Before approving an application and issuing a license, the board shall consider: 1) The public need and desire for the license; 2) The number and location of existing licensees and the potential effect on existing licensees of the license applied for; 3) The potential commonality or uniqueness of the services and products to be offered by the applicant’s business; 4) The impact on the general health, safety, and welfare of the community, including issues relating to crime, traffic conditions, parking, or convenience; and 5) Any other necessary factors as determined by the board.”)

Other reasons Commissioners gave for decision: N/A

Issues raised in the audit present in this case: N/A

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Establishment address: 1143-45 Hollins Street

Establishment Trade name: Zellas Pizzeria

Hearing Time: 1:44 – 1:54

License type: B Beer, Wine & Liquor (restaurant license, all alcohol may be sold from 6 am to 2 am)

Reason for hearing: Application to transfer ownership & Requests for live entertainment, outdoor table service, & off-premises catering

Zoning (according to Baltimore CityView): B-2-3 (Community Business District)

Neighborhood (according to Baltimore CityView): Hollins Market

Area demographics (as of 2010, from BNIA): 83% Black, 13% White; 31% households have children under age 18; median household income: $19.183; 38% households live below the poverty line

Name of associated corporate entity: Demari, Inc.

Does the associated corporate entity exist and is it in good standing (according to SDAT’s website)? Yes, yes

Location of associated corporate entity’s principal office: Baltimore City

Does at least one of the applicants reside in Baltimore City? Yes

Pecuniary interest of Baltimore City resident in establishment: 100%

Attorney for licensee: N/A

# of people there in support of license: 2 (+1 in audience)

Attorney for community: N/A

# of protestants: 0

# of inspectors present: 1 (Inspector Ray testified that the property was properly posted [with a hearing notice])

Notes from hearing: Cem Ari will be the owner/operator of the establishment. He and his ex-wife opened the restaurant in 2007 and it was an anchor in the neighborhood, hosting events such as Christmas parties in which presents were distributed to children in need. In 2010, he and his wife sold the restaurant to someone else, who defaulted on payments and also threw a glass at a patron. Now Mr. Ari is back at the establishment and is running the restaurant without a liquor license. Even with a liquor license, the restaurant mainly does food sales. The kitchen closes at 11 pm on Fridays and Saturdays. Live entertainment will consist of music once in a while, probably jazz, but they will never have live entertainment after midnight, as they are aware that they have neighbors. With respect to the live entertainment, the applicant said, “We don’t even know what to do with it….it’s just a good idea to have.” Outdoor seating will consist of three 4-tops.

Jane Buccheri, president of Hollins Roundhouse, the community association in the neighborhood, testified that the association requested restrictions on outdoor seating, as the last licensee had entertainment that caused havoc. Ms. Ernst, the other applicant, went to a Hollins Roundhouse meeting in which the neighbors discussed that they did not want entertainment or outdoor seating past midnight on weekends or past 10/11 pm on weeknights. Mr. Ari said that he “knowingly, willingly, and voluntarily” agreed to these restrictions. Acting Chairwoman Smith also checked that there was not another community association the applicants should be consulting (“it’s always good to reach out to your neighbors”) – Mr. Ari said that he would reach out to Union Square if the Board wanted him to, but Ms. Buccheri confirmed that the property was within Hollins Roundhouse’s boundaries.

Result of hearing: Application, live entertainment, outdoor table service, & off-premises catering approved.

What the vote was: Commissioners Smith and Jones in favor

Portions of state law and/or Board Rules and Regulations Commissioners cited in decision: Md Code Art. 2B § 10-202(a)

Other reasons Commissioners gave for decision: Letter of support from Hollins Roundhouse neighborhood association

Issues raised in the audit present in this case: N/A

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Establishment address: 1114-16 Hollins Street

Establishment Trade name: Mi Ranchito Restaurant

Hearing Time: 1:13 – 1:40 pm

License type: BD7 Beer, Wine & Liquor (Tavern license, alcohol may be sold for consumption on site or off premises, privilege granted from 6 am to 2 am)

Reason for hearing: Application to transfer ownership & Requests for live entertainment, outdoor table service, & off-premises catering

Zoning (according to Baltimore CityView): B-2-3 (Community Business District)

Neighborhood (according to Baltimore CityView): Hollins Market

Area demographics (as of 2010, BNIA): 83% Black, 13% White; 31% households have children under age 18; median household income: $19.183; 38% households live below the poverty line

Name of associated corporate entity: Mi Ranchito, LLC

Does the associated corporate entity exist and is it in good standing (according to SDAT’s website)? Yes, yes

Location of associated corporate entity’s principal office: Baltimore City

Does at least one of the applicants reside in Baltimore City? Yes

Does the application contain 3 signatures from Baltimore City property owners who are registered to vote and who have known the applicant(s) for at least 2 years? No (see “Notes from hearing,” below)

Attorney for licensee: Melvin Kodenski

# of people there in support of license: 4

Attorney for community: N/A

# of protestants: 0

# of inspectors present: 1 (Inspector Ray testified that the property was properly posted [with a hearing notice])

Notes from hearing: Mr. Collins is the City resident on the application; Ms. Garcia will be the primary operator. The applicants presented a menu, petitions with 40 signatures from people in the area, and a letter of support from Hollins Roundhouse. Another individual, who has an establishment on Pataspco Avenue, will also be helping out at the establishment. Ms. Garcia testified, through a translator, that she has alcoholic beverage business experience, and used to work at Martitha Restaurant in Glen Burnie, MD. She will be on the premises all the time and will have 5-6 employees. She will try to hire people who live in the neighborhood. She has a Spanish version of the Liquor Board’s Rules and Regulations. She went to community association meetings, will join the association, and will attend future meetings. The hours of operation for the kitchen will be 11 am – 11 pm on weekdays and 11 am – 2 am on weekends.

Jane Buccheri, President of Hollins Roundhouse, testified that the association is looking forward to the restaurant. The location had another Mexican restaurant years ago. Ms. Buccheri also testified that Mr. Collins has been in the neighborhood for a long time and the neighborhood association is excited that he is bringing someone in from outside to help build up the neighborhood, which sometimes has a bad reputation that it does not deserve. Acting Chairwoman Smith confirmed that Hollins Roundhouse is the closest neighborhood association to the property.

Outdoor table service will be in the back of the restaurant, in the same place it was when the property was a restaurant before, and will end between 11 pm and midnight. Live entertainment will be karaoke only. There are residential neighbors, including upstairs from the establishment.

When the Board went over the citizen signatures on the application, there was a discrepancy in the number of years the applicants testified they had known the signatories and the number of years they wrote on their application they had known the signatories. It also seemed from oral testimony that Mr. Collins, one of the applicants, signed the application as a citizen who knows the applicants. Acting Chairwoman Smith asked that the application be amended to show accurate people and the accurate amount of time known. The applicants’ attorney argued that it’s difficult to prove that the signatories are “reputable citizens,” and Commissioner Jones clarified that the issue was the discrepancy in the numbers given during oral testimony and on the written application.

Result of hearing: Transfer, live entertainment, outdoor table service, & off-premises catering approved, but the application must be amended before the license is issued

What the vote was: Commissioners Smith and Jones in favor

Portions of state law and/or Board Rules and Regulations Commissioners cited in decision: Md Code Art. 2B § 10-202(a)

Other reasons Commissioners gave for decision: N/A

Issues raised in the audit present in this case: Finding 3 of the Audit states that “BLLC [the Liquor Board] lacked documentation that certain State law and BLLC licensing requirements were met.” In 11 out of 30 applications the auditors tested, the applications were not completely filled out. In this case, there was a question about whether or not the three requisite citizen signatures met the requirements of Md Code Art. 2B § 10-104(d).

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Establishment address: 3535 Chestnut Avenue

Establishment Trade name: Paulie Gee’s Hampden

Hearing Time: 1:56 – 2:19

License type: B Beer, Wine & Liquor (restaurant license, all alcohol may be sold from 6 am to 2 am)

Reason for hearing: Application for new license, live entertainment, outdoor table service, and off-premises catering [live entertainment, outdoor table service, and off-premises catering were not listed on public docket]

Zoning (according to Baltimore CityView): B-1-2 (Community Business District)

Neighborhood (according to Baltimore CityView): Hampden

Area demographics (as of 2010, from BNIA): 77% White, 12% Black, 5% Asian; 4% Hispanic ethnicity; 18% households have children under age 18; median household income: $54,278; 6% households live below poverty line

Name of associated corporate entity: Baltimore Pizza Holdings, LLC

Does the associated corporate entity exist and is it in good standing (according to SDAT’s website)? Exists; not in good standing

Location of associated corporate entity’s principal office: Baltimore City

Does at least one of the applicants reside in Baltimore City? Yes

Pecuniary interest of Baltimore City resident in establishment: 100%

Attorney for licensee: N/A

# of people there in support of license: 2

Attorney for community: N/A

# of protestants: 0

# of inspectors present: 1 (Inspector Ray)

Notes from hearing: The applicant lives in Butchers Hill and is partnering with someone in Brooklyn. He and his wife have always liked Hampden, and Hampden does not have a brick-oven pizza place, so it made sense to them to locate their business in Hampden. The restaurant will have a total of 108 seats, not including seats at the bar. The applicant presented a floor plan and a business plan demonstrating support from “New York restaurateurs and bloggers.” The applicant got Zoning approval for outdoor tables with 20 seats, but will have 16 outdoor seats at the most. The applicant is making exterior improvements and will also add a rear exit door to the establishment. He presented the Board with documents showing that he is meeting and surpassing the $200,000 investment required for a new restaurant license. The other witness, Mr. Bauer, is helping the applicant with the permitting process.

The applicant submitted a letter of support from a nearby church and testified that he had a conversation with the church’s Pastor, who was concerned about operating hours and live entertainment. The live entertainment will be from Thursday through Sunday and will consist of jazz and performances by local artists. The applicant testified that there will not be loud music, but said he wants the live entertainment option so that the establishment can host special events such as weddings. The applicant also submitted a letter of support from the Hampden Village Merchants Association and a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Hampden Community Council (HCC). The MOU specifies that the live entertainment will be inside only and will not exceed 90 decibels, and that the applicant will provide 15-30 parking spaces on the site. The Board of Municipal and Zoning Appeals (BMZA) also said that the applicant must provide 15 spaces before he is granted a use and occupancy permit. Acting Chairwoman Smith wanted to ensure that HCC was comfortable with 15 spaces only, so the applicant presented an e-mail from the president of HCC stating that 15 parking spaces is fine. The applicant will not sell alcoholic beverages for carry-out.

The applicant did not know the last names of the citizen signatories on his application, so he was directed to amend it with people whose first and last names he knows. The applicant amended the citizens’ names at the hearing, but it remained unclear when the citizens (who were not present) would sign the application.

Result of hearing: Application, live entertainment, outdoor table service, and off-premises catering

What the vote was: Commissioners Smith and Jones in favor

Portions of state law and/or Board Rules and Regulations Commissioners cited in decision: Md Code Art. 2B § 10-202(a)

Other reasons Commissioners gave for decision: New license, live entertainment, outdoor table service, and off-premises catering approved

Issues raised in the audit present in this case: Finding 3 of the Audit states that “BLLC [the Liquor Board] lacked documentation that certain State law and BLLC licensing requirements were met.” In 11 out of 30 applications the auditors tested, the applications were not completely filled out. In this case, it remains unclear when the three citizen signatures required by Md Code Art. 2B § 10-104(d) will be added to the amended application.

Corporate Standing: Audit Finding 3 states that “BLLC lacked documentation that certain State law and BLLC licensing requirements were met.” Specifically, 9 of 30 “judgmentally selected” licenses lacked the required documentation indicating that the licensed business was in good standing with the State Department of Assessments and Taxation (i.e. that the business has filed all required documents and is not delinquent with any State agency). The audit recommends that “staff verif[y] that applicants are in good standing with SDAT and include relevant documentation in the licensee files.” Baltimore Pizza Holdings, LLC is not in good standing with SDAT.

3:00 pm Docket:

Establishment address: 621 S. Dean Street

Establishment Trade name: Highland Clipper Club

Hearing Time: POSTPONED

License type: C Beer, Wine & Liquor (non-profit private club license, all alcohol may be served from 6 am to 2 am, 7 days/week)

Reason for hearing: Request for hardship extension

Zoning (according to Baltimore CityView): R-8 (General Residence District)

Neighborhood (according to Baltimore CityView): Brewers Hill

Area demographics (as of 2010, from BNIA): 66% White, 9% Black, 3% Asian; 20% Hispanic ethnicity; 17% households have children under age 18; median household income: $60,484; 15% households live below the poverty line

Name of associated corporate entity: Highland Clipper Club, Inc.

Does the associated corporate entity exist and is it in good standing (according to SDAT’s website)? Exists; not in good standing

Location of associated corporate entity’s principal office: Baltimore City

Does at least one of the applicants reside in Baltimore City? Yes

__________

Establishment address: 1709 Fleet Street

Establishment Trade name: Fells Point Liquor & Bar

Hearing Time: POSTPONED

License type: BD7 Beer, Wine & Liquor (Tavern license, alcohol may be sold for consumption on site or off premises, privilege granted from 6 am to 2 am)

Reason for hearing: Request for hardship extension

Zoning (according to Baltimore CityView): B-2-2 (Community Business District)

Neighborhood (according to Baltimore CityView): Fells Point

Area demographics (as of 2010, from BNIA): 70% White, 8% Black, 5% Asian; 15% Hispanic ethnicity; 11% households have children under age 18; median household income: $69,105; 11% households live below the poverty line

Name of associated corporate entity: Radharaj, Inc.

Does the associated corporate entity exist and is it in good standing (according to SDAT’s website)? Exists; not in good standing

Location of associated corporate entity’s principal office: Rockville, MD

Does at least one of the applicants reside in Baltimore City? Yes

__________

Establishment address: 2600 E. Monument Street

Establishment Trade name: Rumors

Hearing Time: POSTPONED

Background: This was a scheduled hearing on a hardship extension for a license transfer that was approved in November 2011 (State law provides that a transfer must be completed within 180 days of approval, or 360 days maximum if a hardship extension is granted).

This was the fourth postponement of this hearing. In January 2013, 442 days after the transfer was approved, the Liquor Board sent a letter to the applicant asking her to “appear for a conference with Executive Secretary Sam Daniels” at the Liquor Board’s office in February 2013. There is no record of the result of that conference in the file for the license. In February 2013, the Liquor Board sent a letter to the applicant asking her to appear for a public hearing in March 2013 because “there ha[d] been no progress concerning this transfer.” The applicant failed to appear at the public hearing. In May 2013, the Liquor Board sent another letter to the applicant asking her to appear for a public hearing on June 13, 2013. This hearing was rescheduled for June 20, 2013, and then postponed until July 11, 2013. On July 11, 2013, 616 days had passed since the Board approved the transfer.

License type: BD7 Beer, Wine & Liquor (tavern license, alcohol may be sold for consumption on site or off premises, privilege granted from 6 am to 2 am)

Reason for hearing: Request for hardship extension

Zoning (according to Baltimore CityView): B-2-2 (Community Business District)

Neighborhood (according to Baltimore CityView): Madison-Eastend

Area demographics (as of 2010, from BNIA): 90% Black, 3% White; 4% Hispanic ethnicity; 51% households have children under age 18; median household income: $32,145, 29% households live below the poverty line

Name of associated corporate entity: N/A

Does at least one of the applicants reside in Baltimore City? Yes

Pecuniary interest of Baltimore City resident in establishment: 100%

Does the application contain 3 signatures from Baltimore City property owners who are registered to vote and who have known the applicant(s) for at least 2 years? No. Three of the four signatories on the September 2011 transfer application did not list an owned property in Baltimore City, and do not own their place of residence. This author was unable to verify the ownership of the fourth signatory’s residence.

Issues raised in the audit present in this case:

Conferences: Audit Finding 17 states that “BLLC used alternatives to the Board hearing process to address violations and infractions and the Board had not formally approved these alternatives.” Md Code Article 2B § 10-503(d) provides that “[a] transfer shall be completed not more than 180 days after the Board approves the transfer.” § 10-504(d) provides that a licensee may request a hardship extension within 180 days of alcoholic beverages business operations ceasing, and the Board shall hold a hearing on that extension request. In this case, the Board scheduled a conference with the licensee to discuss the incomplete transfer. Until this hearing, 616 days after the Board approved the transfer, there was no public hearing on a hardship extension request in this case.

Finding 3 of the Audit states that “BLLC [the Liquor Board] lacked documentation that certain State law and BLLC licensing requirements were met.” In 11 out of 30 applications the auditors tested, the applications were not completely filled out. In this case, the September 2011 transfer application that resulted in the current licensee acquiring this license did not have three citizen signatures that met the requirements of Md Code Art. 2B § 10-104(d).

Expired license: Audit finding 19 states that “[s]tate law requires that, 180 days after a licensed establishment has closed or has ceased active alcoholic beverage operations, the alcoholic beverage license shall expire except under defined circumstances….Licensees may also submit a written request for a hardship extension within the 180-day period. The law further states that its intent is that the total time for which a license may be deemed unexpired is 180 days, or 360 days if an undue hardship extension has been granted.” The Audit also recommended “that the Board discontinue granting additional hardship extensions beyond that permitted by law.” The Executive Secretary’s response to this Recommendation was that the Board would “continue to rely upon balanced judgment, case law [none cited] and appellate review, until instructed to do otherwise by an appropriate legal authority.” In response, the Auditor cited the clear language of Md Code Article 2B § 10-504(d), stating that all licenses expire by operation of law after 360 days from the date of closure, and advised that should the Liquor Board wish “to continue its current practices, it should obtain formal independent legal advice to support its practices.” In this case, the license expired by operation of law at least 8 months ago.

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Establishment address: 6506-10 Harford Road

Establishment Trade name: Liquor Station

Hearing Time: 3:10 – 3:39 pm

License type: A Beer, Wine & Liquor (Package goods store, all alcohol may be sold for consumption off-premises from 6 am to midnight, no Sunday sales)

Reason for hearing: Violation of two Rules of the Board of Liquor License Commissioners for Baltimore City

# and type of alleged violations: 2

Liquor Board Rule 4.18: “No licensee shall commit or allow the commission on his premises of any act which shall be contrary to any federal, state or local statute, law or ordinance or against the public peace, safety, health, welfare, quiet, or morals.” (The licensee was alleged to have expanded into a Laundromat without Liquor Board or Zoning approval.)

Liquor Board Rule 3.02: “Licensees shall cooperate with representatives of the Board, members of the Police Department, Health Department, Building Engineer’s office, Grand Jury and representatives of other governmental agencies whenever any such persons are on official business.” (The licensee was alleged to have failed to contact the Liquor Board after having been asked to do so on Dec. 13, 2012.)

Zoning (according to Baltimore CityView): B-2-2 (Community Business District)

Neighborhood (according to Baltimore CityView): Westfield

Area demographics (as of 2010, from BNIA): 53% Black, 40% White; 3% Hispanic ethnicity; 32% households have children under age 18; median household income: $51,208; 9% households live below the poverty line

Name of associated corporate entity: 6510 Harford Road, LLC [listed as 6510 Harford Road, Inc. on the public docket]

Does the associated corporate entity exist and is it in good standing (according to SDAT’s website)? Yes, yes

Location of associated corporate entity’s principal office: Baltimore City

Attorney for licensee: Gary Maslan

# of people there in support of license: 1

Attorney for community: N/A

# of protestants: 1 (Mike Hilliard of HARBEL stood on the protestants’ side of the dais but did not testify)

# of inspectors present: 2 (Inspector Hyde & Agent Fitzgerald)

Notes from hearing: The licensees were not at the hearing, but the husband of one of the licensees was. Agent Fitzgerald testified that he has been working this location for 2 years. During a visit to the establishment, he saw that the licensees were selling alcohol in a Laundromat, and told them that they needed verbal permission from the Liquor Board to do renovations breaking through from their package goods store to the Laundromat. Agent Fitzgerald presented the Board with photographs of the location that he took on his cell phone. The attorney for the licensees explained that the license was granted for 6506-10 Harford Road in 2006. 6506-08 is a Laundromat and was a Laundromat at the time the license was granted. Agent Fitzgerald testified that due to the wall that separated the Laundromat and the package goods store before the recent renovations, 6506-08 Harford Road and 6510 Harford Road should actually be two different addresses, but the attorney for the applicants disagreed. The licensee’s husband then explained that when they stopped making money on the Laundromat, they decided to break through from the Laundromat to the liquor store so that people would not have to leave the Laundromat to buy liquor (there used to be a window from the Laundromat to the liquor store with an opening just large enough to give change). He said that the licensees’ plan from the beginning had been to expand into the Laundromat (this is why they sought the license for 6506-10), and he thought he had told the Liquor Board that. Commissioner Jones explained that he still should have let the Liquor Board know when he expanded, and emphasized the importance of following zoning laws that provide that you must have a use permit for each use of a property. He also said that there must be a wall between the Laundromat and the liquor store. The licensees’ attorney told the Board that the applicants for transfer of this license have applied for a use and occupancy permit. Agent Fitzgerald testified that the licensees’ cooperation with him was “very fair.”

The licensee’s husband also testified that he did not receive any letter asking him to contact the Liquor Board, because he changed his address. He was shocked to see his violations on the docket.

Result of hearing: Licensees guilty of violating Rule 4.18 → $500 fine. Licensees guilty of violating Rule 3.02 → $500 fine. Licensees were also charged a $125 hearing fee.

What the vote was: Commissioners Smith and Jones found the licensees guilty

Portions of state law and/or Board Rules and Regulations Commissioners cited in decision: Board of Liquor License Commissioners for Baltimore City Rules 4.18 and 3.02

Other reasons Commissioners gave for decision: Agent Fitzgerald’s testimony and pictures, Licensee’s testimony

Issues raised in the audit present in this case: N/A

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Establishment address: 6506-10 Harford Road

Establishment Trade name: Liquor Station

Hearing Time: 3:40 – 4:01 pm

License type: A Beer, Wine & Liquor (Package goods store, all alcohol may be sold for consumption off-premises from 6 am to midnight, no Sunday sales)

Reason for hearing: Application to transfer ownership

Zoning (according to Baltimore CityView): B-2-2 (Community Business District)

Neighborhood (according to Baltimore CityView): Westfield

Area demographics (as of 2010, from BNIA): 53% Black, 40% White; 3% Hispanic ethnicity; 32% households have children under age 18; median household income: $51,208; 9% households live below the poverty line

Name of associated corporate entity: New Punjab, LLC

Does the associated corporate entity exist and is it in good standing (according to SDAT’s website)? Yes, yes

Location of associated corporate entity’s principal office: Baltimore City

Does at least one of the applicants reside in Baltimore City? Yes

Attorney for licensee: Gary Maslan

# of people there in support of license:  4 (+2 in audience)

Attorney for community: N/A

# of protestants: 1 (Mike Hilliard of HARBEL)

# of inspectors present: 1 (Agent Fitzgerald testified that the property was posted in February 2013 and the posting remained up for at least 10 days)

Notes from hearing: This is the same location as that discussed in the previous hearing. The applicants’ attorney stated that this establishment is in the public interest, the applicants have an application in with Zoning for a use and occupancy permit, and an employee from the old establishment who has been there 6 months is being retained. One of the applicants will be there during the day and testified that he has bartended in Baltimore City, at the Renaissance and at a private club on McCulloh Street. When Commissioner Smith asked the other applicant, who said he will be the full-time operator and said he has worked the cash register in other places, if he knew the neighborhood association, he said no. He also said he had not reached out to businesses in the area, but he would do so. The applicant’s attorney, however, said that he had reached out to the community association (but he did not know the association’s name) and offered for his clients to join, but had not received a response. His clients are amenable to signing a Memorandum of Understanding. The store hours will be 9 am to 6-7 pm, “give or take,” hopefully six days/week.

Mr. Hilliard from HARBEL Community Organization testified that Westfield Neighborhood Improvement Association is the relevant association. His concern, after the previous hearing, was about the use and occupancy permit, and he hoped the applicants would restore the establishment to the way it used to be before it expanded. Otherwise, this would set a precedent of the Board retroactively approving an expansion that occurred without Board approval.

The applicant’s attorney asked that the Board approve the license subject to a proper use and occupancy permit being obtained and a letter from the community association saying that it doesn’t have any objections. He said that the Laundromat will not be re-established, but he asked the Board not to blame the applicants for what the current owners [also his clients] did.

The Commissioners confirmed through oral testimony that the applicants have known all three of the citizen signatories of their application for at least two years.

Result of hearing: Transfer approved, contingent upon the applicants obtaining a proper use and occupancy permit and a letter of non-objection from the neighborhood association

What the vote was: Commissioners Smith and Jones in favor

Reasons Commissioners gave for decision: No community association opposition at hearing

Issues raised in the audit present in this case: N/A

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