Booze News: Distilled in Room 215

A blog about the Baltimore City Liquor Board

What happened at the Liquor Board on July 18, 2013

Written by Kristine Dunkerton

Chairman Fogleman and Commissioner Jones heard hearings; Commissioner Smith was not in attendance. Prior to the first hearing, Chairman Fogleman announced that anyone who is unhappy with a decision has 30 days to request judicial review from the Circuit Court, and that all votes should be presumed unanimous, since the two sitting Commissioners would have to agree in order to reach a majority vote.

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

Applicant Brooks Bennett
Business Name 214 W. Mulberry, LLC
Trading As Marticks
Address 214 W. Mulberry Street
Type of License Class “B” Beer, Wine & Liquor License
Reason for hearing Application for a new Class “B” Beer, Wine & Liquor restaurant license under the provisions of Rule 2.08 requiring $200,000 in capital investment in restaurant fixtures and facilities and seating capacity for a minimum of 75 people
Hearing notes

The applicant has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Downtown Partnership. Tom Yeager of Downtown Partnership explained that the Partnership does not want the restaurant to become a night club at night, with party promoters and “under 21” nights. Chairman Fogleman responded, sarcastically, “That happens in Baltimore?” From an economic standpoint, the Partnership supports the application, and from the safety side, it does not have any opposition. The Board confirmed that the applicant entered into the MOU voluntarily. The applicant presented a proposed menu and proof that he is meeting the $200,000 investment requirement for a new license. Chairman Fogleman asked if the applicant was going to offer anything in honor of Morris Martick – French onion soup? Escargots? The applicant did not commit to either. The applicant has experience working at Baltimore Trophy (Highland Avenue), which he owns with his brother. He also worked in restaurants in the County in 1993 and 1994. Now that he has grown children, he wants to get into the restaurant business again. He envisions a “traditional speakeasy” where “the whole atmosphere is … upscale.”

The establishment will seat a minimum of 78 people, a maximum of 86. A floor plan was not submitted, but Al Barry, of AB Associates, who is serving as a consultant for the applicant, committed to getting a floor plan to the Liquor Board as soon as possible. Chairman Fogleman asked that the floor plan be submitted before the license is issued. The establishment will employ 8 – 10 people and its hours will be 4:00 pm – 1:30/2:00. There is City parking next door.

Live entertainment: The applicant stated that he was applying for live entertainment because he wants to have it available in case he wants it down the road. He envisions having 1-2 piece bands.

Citizen signatories: Chairman Fogleman went through the citizen signatories on the application and asked the applicant about each one, and if the applicant was “reasonably certain” that each one was a Baltimore City property owner and registered voter. Some of the names were illegible, so Chairman Fogleman asked the applicant to amend the application to make the names legible.

Zoning B-4-2 (Central Business District)
Neighborhood Downtown
Area demographics 39% White, 37% Black, 16% Asian, 3% two or more races; 5% Hispanic ethnicity; 9% households have children under age 18; median household income: $38,146; 18% households live below the poverty line
Does corp entity exist, in good standing? Yes; yes
Location of entity’s principal office Baltimore
One applicant reside in Balt for 2 yrs? Yes
Pecuniary interest of Baltimore City resident 100%
Attorney for licensee Mr. Melvin Kodenski
# in support 2
Attorney for community N/A
# of protestants 0
# of inspectors 1: Inspector Ray testified that the property had been posted [with a hearing notice] from June 10 – June 19
Result of hearing New license and live entertainment approved
Vote tally Chairman Fogleman and Commissioner Jones in favor
Portions of state law 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 given for decision N/A
Issues raised in audit present in this case N/A
Applicant Robert Ignatowski
Business Name None provided
Trading As Shed Row
Address 1901 Gough Street
Type of License 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 Public hearing to determine the status of the license under the provisions of Article 2B
§ 10-504(d)
Hearing notes

The licensee has worked for the Circuit Court for Baltimore City for 49 years. Liquor Board inspectors had not had an easy time getting into the establishment to do inspections, and inspectors’ notes from 2010 stated that the establishment was closed. To prove that his license has not expired by operation of law (Md Code § 10-504(d) provides that a license expires no matter what after 360 days of inactivity), he presented two letters from neighborhood businessmen who said that they had bought alcohol from the applicant within the past year. One of the businessmen said he met with the applicant at the tavern, and the other one spent $337 there on one day in December 2012, and $227 on another day in January 2013. The applicant presented Maryland Sales and Use tax returns for less than $30 each quarter, as well as federal returns dating back to 2001. He said that his tavern was running strong up to 2007, but due to recent health constraints he has been running it part-time, mostly on Sundays, since then. The licensee has a buyer for the license lined up.

Zoning R-8 (General Residence District)
Neighborhood Upper Fells Point
Area demographics 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
Does corp entity exist, in good standing? No corporate entity provided in docket.
Location of entity’s principal office No corporate entity provided in docket.
One applicant reside in Balt for 2 yrs? Yes.
Pecuniary interest of Baltimore City resident 100%
Attorney for licensee None/unrepresented.
# in support 1
Attorney for community None
# of protestants 0
# of inspectors 1: Inspector Brooks testified that the posting [hearing notice] went up on the Gough Street side of the property on June 10th and was checked daily for 10 days.
Result of hearing License deemed valid
Vote tally Chairman Fogleman and Commissioner Jones in favor
Portions of state law cited in decision Md Code Art. 2B § 10-504(d) (180 days after the holder of any license issued under the provisions of this article has closed the business or ceased alcoholic beverages business operations of the business for which the license is held, the license shall expire unless: (i) An application for approval of a transfer to another location or an application for assignment to another person pursuant to § 10-503(d) of this subtitle has been approved or is then pending;….(iii) A written request for a hardship extension, as provided in this subsection, is filed within the 180-day period….the total time period for which a license may be deemed unexpired … is 180 days if no undue hardship extension is granted, and no more than 360 days if an undue hardship extension has been granted.)
Other reasons given for decision The licensee has done the minimum necessary to keep the establishment open, based on documents and letters presented.
Issues raised in audit present in this case N/A
Applicant Stefan Popescu & Daniel Murphy
Business Name Gough Street Liquor, LLC
Trading As trade name pending
Address 1901 Gough Street
Type of License Class “BD7” Beer, Wine & Liquor License
Reason for hearing Application to transfer ownership
Hearing notes

This is the same license as that discussed in the previous hearing. The applicants plan to clean up the property and add some deli food. The name of the establishment will change, but they foresee using the name of their manager, “Cockey,” and said that “Cockey’s at Fells” might be a possibility. Robert Cockey has been in the restaurant business for 42 years and has two businesses in Hollins Market. The applicants and Mr. Cockey researched other establishments in the area and saw that food is important to success and that there is not another deli in the area. They submitted a proposed menu, brief business plan, and petition with signatures of about 35 people in the neighborhood (they sat outside the restaurant to answer any questions neighbors may have). There will be 35 restaurant seats and 15 bar seats. One of the applicants worked in the catering business throughout college, and has been TIPS trained since his freshman year of college. He hopes to live above the establishment. The other applicant is a high school math teacher who trains other teachers in the summer. He will work 10-20 hours/week at the establishment.

One of the applicants met and came to an agreement with Fells Prospect, which provided a letter of support for the project. The agreement specifies when the establishment will open in the morning, when it will turn off music (no music after midnight), and says that there will be no party promoters or valet parking and the applicant will discuss with Fells Prospect before requesting live entertainment. Chairman Fogleman ensured that the applicants understood that they were entering into voluntary restrictions on their license.

Juliette Richter, Chair of the Upper Fells Point Improvement Association’s Land Use Committee, testified that her association is concerned because the tavern is right across the street from Wolfe Street Academy, which has students ages 3 – 11. She said the principal isn’t “too enthused” about having a tavern across the street. On the other hand, if the establishment will have a de minimis impact on the neighborhood, the association does not have any opposition. Ms. Richter was aware of the agreement the applicants signed with Fells Prospect, which provided that the establishment windows and doors must be closed from 2 – 5 pm. Her association requested that those hours be expanded to 11 am – 5 pm, as the school children have recess during those times, and the tavern atmosphere could be deleterious to kids, especially with packaged goods being sold. She said that packaged goods should only be sold over the counter and in a brown paper bag. She also felt that outdoor table seating, which the applicants intend to request at a later date, would be inappropriate during school hours. She said her association does not want to restrict the licensees, but wants to ensure a de minimis impact on the nearby school and children. One of the applicants responded that the tavern’s windows do not see directly into the school, and he and his partner thought that what they put into the agreement was sufficient. Ms. Richter responded that this establishment is in the middle of her association’s boundaries and parents are concerned, as the licensed property is right across the street from the playground. She said she was making a very minor request.

Zoning R-8 (General Residence District)
Neighborhood Upper Fells Point
Area demographics 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
Does corp entity exist, in good standing? Yes; yes
Location of entity’s principal office Baltimore City
One applicant reside in Balt for 2 yrs? Yes
Pecuniary interest of Baltimore City resident ?
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. The application contains 2 Baltimore City property owners who meet the statutory requirements of Md Code Art. 2B § 10-104(d). According to SDAT, the third citizen signatory does not own the property he lists.
Attorney for licensee Mr. Melvin Kodesnki
# in support 4 (2 applicants & 2 community members)
Attorney for community None
# of protestants 1
# of inspectors 1: Inspector Brooks testified that the property was posted [with a hearing notice] on June 10 and the posting remained up for at least 10 days.
Result of hearing Transfer application approved
Vote tally Chairman Fogleman and Commisioner Jones in favor
Portions of state law cited in decision Md Code Art. 2B § 10-202(a)
Other reasons given for decision The Board said that, following case law, it cannot line-item veto a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) – the Board can either take the MOU and grant the license, or deny the license. The Commissioners said that they will hear about it if there is a problem with the windows, and they will not second-guess Fells Prospect’s work on the MOU. The Board asked the applicants to exercise extra diligence, especially during school hours: “Please continue to be communicative with [Fells Prospect and Upper Fells Point Improvement Association].”
Issues raised in audit present in this case

Citizen signatures: 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 application only contained two signatures that met the requirements of Md Code Art. 2B § 10-104(d). Three signatures are required.

Proximity to a school: Audit Finding 3 also found that the Liquor Board did not always complete a report documenting an establishment’s proximity to schools and churches. Md Code Art. 2B § 9-204.3 provides that “no new license, or removal of an existing license, shall be granted to sell alcoholic beverages in any building located within 300 feet of the nearest point of the buildings of a church or school, but the license of any person now holding a license for any building located within such distance of the building grounds of a church or school may be renewed or extended for the same building.” State law is not clear as to whether a transfer of a license to a new licensee is considered a “new license.” In this case, the Board did not renew or extend the license of a person currently holding a license (as allowed by law) – it approved a transfer of the license to a new person for a new establishment in a property directly across the street from and within 300 feet of a school (it is unclear whether this approval contravenes state law).

Applicant David Tobash
Business Name Soldi Fussa, LLC
Trading As Crossroads Sports Bar & Grill
Address 3326-28 Foster Avenue
Type of License Class “BD7” Beer, Wine & Liquor License
Reason for hearing Application to transfer ownership; request for outdoor table service
Hearing notes The applicant lives in the community, about a block away from the establishment, and has rehabbed about 7 houses in the area. He talked with the Canton Community Association and told the Board that the association does not have any problem with the proposal, but members do want to make sure the applicant gets zoning approval before beginning outdoor table service. The applicant has not met with the Association’s economic development committee – he said that group wanted to wait to meet until after the hearing. The applicant plans on making cosmetic improvements to the establishment, and will keep the same hours of the current establishment (Adam’s Eve): Tuesday – Thursday from 4 pm to midnight or 1:30 am, weekends from noon to 2 am. The dining room will seat 44 people and the bar will seat 42. There will be 4-6 outdoor tables. The name will be different and the menu will change from what is currently offered, but will still be American Bistro and mid/upscale bar food. The same alcohol will be offered. The applicant stated that he has received a copy of the Board’s Rules and Regulations and has completed the required alcohol awareness course.
Zoning R-8 (General Residence District)
Neighborhood Canton
Area demographics 86% White, 4% Black, 3% Asian; 5% Hispanic ethnicity; 9% households have children under age 18; median household income: $82,130
Does corp entity exist, in good standing? Entity does not exist
Location of entity’s principal office Entity does not exist
One applicant reside in Balt for 2 yrs? Yes
Pecuniary interest of Baltimore City resident 100%
Attorney for licensee Mr. Melvin Kodenski
# in support 1
Attorney for community None
# of protestants 0
# of inspectors 1: Inspector Owens testified that a sign [hearing notice] was posted on the front door and remained there for 10 days.
Result of hearing Transfer of license ownership approved. Applicant was asked to return in 6 months to request outdoor table service.
Vote tally Chairman Fogleman and Commissioner Jones in favor
Portions of state law cited in decision Md Code Art. 2B § 10-202(a)
Other reasons given for decision The applicant is “extremely local” – he lives a block away, “everything sounds great,” there is a letter of support from Dan Tracy of Canton Community Association. Concerning outdoor table service, Cardinal and Sheba [other licensed establishments] were not granted outdoor table service at their initial requests. Chairman Fogleman said, “Don’t get down about the tables – we’ll definitely see you again about that.”
Issues raised in audit present in this case

During the decision phase of the hearing, Chairman Fogleman expressed unhappiness that Adam’s Eve took over the license at this location a year ago, but never filed a transfer application. Whether this was due to a problem with Liquor Board Inspections (the Audit stated that “BLLC had no automated system to track inspections performed, outcomes of those inspections, and any related disciplinary actions taken. As a result, it was difficult for BLLC management to oversee operations to ensure that licensees were appropriately inspected, infractions and violations were addressed, staff properly performed required job duties…”) or with Disciplinary Proceedings (the Audit “found that [BLLC] had not developed any formal guidance over the disciplinary process), there was a procedural failure somewhere when the Chairman of the Board knew that a transfer had occurred without Board approval, but no hearing was ever scheduled.

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.” Soldi Fussa, LLC cannot be in good standing with the state because it does not exist.

Applicant Robert Wehner & Ronald Pruett
Business Name O & W Company, LLC
Trading As Murphy’s Neighborhood Bar & Grill
Address 5800 York Road
Type of License Class “BD7” Beer, Wine & Liquor License
Reason for hearing Application to transfer location of a Class “BD7” BWL presently located at 5847 York Road to 5800 York Road
Hearing notes

The applicant is currently operating an establishment at 5847 York Road. He will be the property owner at 5800 York Road. He has met with various community organizations and signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with York Road Partnership (YRP), as the establishment is not within the boundaries of any neighborhood association – YRP is an umbrella group for York Road. The applicant’s attorney stated that the applicant has owned his current establishment for 13-14 years without any incidents, to which Chairman Fogleman replied, “Without any incidents?” and reported that in 2012, the applicant was found to be serving alcohol past the permissible hours. The applicant’s attorney stated that the applicant will provide security measures at his new location that he does not provide at his current one.

Councilman Bill Henry’s testimony: Councilman Henry paraphrased the MOU and thanked the applicant for his cooperation, stating that this “has been a very, very good process” in terms of the licensee working with the community to minimize negative impacts of the establishment. Councilman Henry also said that Belvedere Improvement Association, within whose boundaries the current establishment resides, has been very happy with the applicant as a licensee. He explained that a number of points in the MOU were added not because of problems with the current location, but because the new location is next to Favorites, a bar that has a really bad reputation with the neighborhood. He explained that most of the neighbors who do not support the current application do not support it because they are unhappy with Favorites, and they don’t want more licensed establishments in the area. The community, the applicant, and the owner of Favorites did meet, and agreed that there would be four people outside working security whenever both establishments are open. The MOU specifies that the applicant will close at 1:30 am Wednesday through Saturday, will have two employees present during all hours of operation, will only sell packaged goods over the bar, and will not sell packaged goods after 10 pm. Councilman Henry asked that each of these MOU provisions be noted on the license. The applicant’s attorney and Chairman Fogleman confirmed that the applicant voluntarily entered the MOU, and Chairman Fogleman said that the MOU language Councilman Henry specified would go on the bottom of the license.

Additional letters: Chairman Fogleman stated that the Liquor Board had received letters of opposition from the Homeland Association and the Bellona Avenue Residents Association, a letter of support contingent upon the MOU restrictions from the Bellona Improvement Association, and a letter of support from York Road Partnership.

Chairman Fogleman went over the three citizen signatories of the application and asked the applicant if he was “reasonably certain” that each signatory was a registered voter and owned property in Baltimore City. One of the names was illegible, so Chairman Fogleman asked the applicant to amend the application.

Zoning B-2-2 (Community Business District)
Neighborhood Rosebank
Area demographics 69% Black, 23% White; 4% Hispanic ethnicity; 29% households have children under age 18; median household income: $44,853; 6.3% of households live below the poverty line
Does corp entity exist, in good standing? Does not exist. O.W., Inc. exists but is not in good standing with the state.
Location of entity’s principal office Does not exist.
One applicant reside in Balt for 2 yrs? No. The applicant resides in Baltimore County.
Pecuniary interest of Baltimore City resident 0%
Attorney for licensee Mr. Melvin Kodenski
# in support 2 (applicant + Councilman Bill Henry)
Attorney for community None
# of protestants 0
# of inspectors 1: Inspector Hyde said that the property was posted [with a hearing notice] on June 10th and was checked daily through June 19th.
Result of hearing Location transfer approved, subject to the MOU with YRP. Chairman Fogleman read the following MOU provisions onto the record: 1:30 closing time Wednesday through Saturday, 10 pm closing time Tuesday through Sunday except holidays and the opening/closing of college sessions, 2 employees at all times.
Vote tally Chairman Fogleman and Commissioner Jones in favor
Portions of state law cited in decision Md Code Art. 2B § 10-202(a)
Other reasons given for decision “Overwhelming community support… pursuant to agreement.”
Issues raised in audit present in this case

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.” O & W Company, LLC cannot be in good standing with the state because it does not exist.

Baltimore City Residency: Audit Finding 2 was that “BLLC frequently issued licenses without receiving all required documentation from licensees or applicants” and Audit Finding 3 was that “detailed testing of the licensing process disclosed that BLLC lacked documentation that certain State law and BLLC licensing requirements were met.” State law (Md Code Art. 2B § 10-103(4)(i)) requires that license applications contain “a statement that the applicant has been for two years next preceding the filing of the application a resident of the county or of the City of Baltimore in which the applicant proposes to operate under the license applied for.” In this case, the applicant is not a Baltimore City resident.

Applicant James Cusack & Kathleen Lyon
Business Name Senator Theatre, LLC
Trading As Senator Theatre
Address 5904 York Road
Type of License Class “B” Beer, Wine & Liquor License
Reason for hearing Application for a new Class “B” BWL under the provisions of Article 2B Section b-3A, a second Class “B” restaurant must have a capital investment of $500,000 in restaurant facilities which sum shall not include the cost of land or building and shall have a minimum seating capacity of 125 seats
Hearing notes Hearing was postponed.
Zoning B-2-2 (Community Business District)
Neighborhood Rosebank
Area demographics 69% Black, 23% White; 4% Hispanic ethnicity; 29% households have children under age 18; median household income: $44,853; 6.3% of households live below the poverty line
Does corp entity exist, in good standing? Yes; yes
Location of entity’s principal office Baltimore City
One applicant reside in Balt for 2 yrs? Yes
Applicant Bryan Noto & Emina Dukic
Business Name Forno, LLC
Trading As Forno
Address 17 N. Eutaw Street
Type of License Class “B” Beer, Wine & Liquor License
Reason for hearing New Class “B” Beer, Wine & Liquor License – Application for a new Class “B” Beer, Wine & Liquor restaurant license under the provisions of Rule 2.08 requiring $200,000 in capital investment in restaurant fixtures and facilities and seating capacity for a minimum of 75 people AND request for outdoor seating. (The request for outdoor seating was not on the public docket.)
Hearing notes

The applicants plan to have a wood-fired oven and offer pizza and other Italian foods (“forno” means “brick oven” in Italian). Their attorney presented a business concept, “comprehensive business plan” with expenses demonstrating a $200,000 minimum investment, and a proposed menu to the Board. The Board had already received a floor plan showing 85 seats, plus 20 in a smaller section, bar seats, and 45 outdoor seats (up to 8 outdoor tables). The building in which the establishment will be located is a multi-purpose building with residences. The space where the restaurant will be used to be World Wings, which went out of business in 2008. The applicants met with Downtown Partnership and came to an agreement restricting live entertainment. Chairman Fogleman confirmed that the applicants came to this agreement voluntarily. Tom Yeager from Downtown Partnership testified that from a safety perspective, the Partnership does not have any opposition, and from an economic perspective, the Partnership embraces the project. The Partnership does not, however, want the restaurant to turn into a dance club at night, and has requested no party promoters, no under 21 nights, and no college nights.

The applicants: The applicants are married. One of them has been managing Alewife for the past four years. Chairman Fogleman asked if Alewife has had any Liquor Board violations, and the applicant said no. The other applicant has a business degree. Both applicants will be working full-time at the establishment.

Chairman Fogleman went through the three citizen signatories with the applicants, asked how the applicants knew the signatories, and asked if the applicants were “reasonably certain” that each signatory is a registered voter and owns property in Baltimore City. Chairman Fogleman also said that the Liquor Board recently began an agreement with the Board of Elections in which the Board of Elections will send the Liquor Board voter information. [A later conversation with Liquor Board staff clarified that the Liquor Board is in the process of reaching this agreement.]

Zoning B-4-2 (Central Business District)
Neighborhood Downtown
Area demographics 39% White, 37% Black, 16% Asian, 3% two or more races; 5% Hispanic ethnicity; 9% households have children under age 18; median household income: $38,146; 18% households live below the poverty line
Does corp entity exist, in good standing? Yes; yes.
Location of entity’s principal office Baltimore City
One applicant reside in Balt for 2 yrs? Yes
Pecuniary interest of Baltimore City resident 100%
Attorney for licensee Mr. Stephen Prevas
# in support 2
Attorney for community None
# of protestants 0
# of inspectors 1: Inspector Estes testified that a sign [with a hearing notice] was posted on the property and remained for 10 days.
Result of hearing Application for new license and outdoor seating approved
Vote tally Chairman Fogleman and Commissioner Jones in favor
Portions of state law cited in decision Md Code Art. 2B § 10-202(a); Liquor Board Rule 2.08 (providing that no new licenses may be granted, with some exceptions, one being a B Beer, Wine & Liquor license where there is a capital investment of at least $200,000 and a table seating capacity of at least 75 people)
Other reasons given for decision Agreement re: live entertainment, no party promoters, no college nights, and no under-21 nights
Issues raised in audit present in this case N/A
Applicant Cheryl Saunders
Business Name None provided in docket
Trading As Rumors
Address 2600 E. Monument Street
Type of License 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 a hardship extension
Hearing notes

The licensee testified that she closed the bar this February, and is trying to sell the license. This is her first hardship extension request. She said that she wants to be off the license and would like to sell the license to Nina Lattimore, who is the sister of someone who runs the bar with her. The applicant said, and Board staff confirmed, that Ms. Lattimore’s application is pending.

This was the fifth hearing scheduled on this issue. In November 2011, the Liquor Board approved a transfer from the current licensee to Ms. Lattimore (Three of the four citizen 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.). In January 2013, 442 days after the transfer was approved, the Liquor Board sent a letter to Ms. Lattimore 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 Ms. Lattimore 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 Ms. Lattimore asking her to appear for a public hearing on June 13, 2013. This hearing was rescheduled for June 20, 2013, postponed until July 11, 2013, and then postponed again until July 18, 2013. On July 18, 2013, 623 days had passed since the Board approved the transfer. State law provides that a transfer must be completed within 180 days of approval, or 360 days maximum if a hardship extension is granted. The period in which the transfer must have been completed has ended. Therefore, the application is no longer legally pending, and must be resubmitted and discussed during a public hearing.

Zoning B-2-2 (Community Business District)
Neighborhood Madison-Eastend
Area demographics 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
Does corp entity exist, in good standing? Corporate entity not provided in docket.
Location of entity’s principal office Corporate entity not provided in docket.
One applicant reside in Balt for 2 yrs? Yes
Pecuniary interest of Baltimore City resident 100%
Attorney for licensee None.
# in support 1
Attorney for community None
# of protestants 0
# of inspectors 1: Inspector Owens
Result of hearing Hardship extension request approved
Vote tally Chairman Fogleman and Commissioner Jones in favor
Portions of state law cited in decision None
Other reasons given for decision There is a transfer application pending.
Issues raised in 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 Ms. Lattimore to discuss the incomplete transfer.

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 the Board agreed is pending did not have three citizen signatures that met the requirements of Md Code Art. 2B § 10-104(d).

Expired transfer application: Audit finding 6 states that “BLLC [the Liquor Board] did not always ensure that license transfers were completed within 180 days of receiving Board approval as required by State law [Md Code Art. 2B § 10-503(d)]. [The auditors’] test of 10 license transfer that occurred during the 2011-2012 license year disclosed that 4 of these license transfers had not been completed within 180 days of receiving Board approval. These four license transfers were completed between 246 and 706 calendar days after the Board approved the transfer.” As of the date of this hearing, 623 days had passed since the Board approved the transfer, no hardship extension request had been filed, and no public hearing on a hardship extension for the transfer had been held. According to Liquor Board files, the pending application expired by operation of law at least 8 months ago.

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