Booze News: Distilled in Room 215

A blog about the Baltimore City Liquor Board

What happened at the Liquor Board on October 17, 2013.

Written by Becky Witt

Chairman Fogleman and Commissioner Jones in attendance.

Chairman Fogleman announced before the hearing, in addition to his usual remarks, that any approvals given by the Board are only given “preliminarily.”

1:00 p.m. cases

Applicant Leonard Coulson, Kimberly Coulson & Gabrielle Grande
Business Name Lousy Lenny’s Inc.
Trading As K.C.’s Corner Tavern
Address 6626 Harford Road
Type of License Class “BD7” Beer, Wine & Liquor License
Reason for hearing Request for a hardship extension under the provisions of Article 2B Section 10-504(d)
Hearing notes

Mr. & Mrs. Colson attended the hearing, unrepresented.

Liquor Board Agent Fosler testified that the establishment did operate as a legitimate BD7 until recently. Liquor Inspector Edward Owens was also present, representing Inspector Hyde. There was no posting in this case, because it’s not required for a hardship extension.

According to Chairman Fogleman, the licensees sent a September 13 letter to the Board asking for their first hardship extension. They no longer own the property.

Zoning B-2-2
Neighborhood Westfield
Area demographics 37% White, 56% Black, 1% Asian; 2% Hispanic ethnicity; 33% households have children under age 18; median household income: $52,678.30
Does corp entity exist, in good standing? Yes; yes.
Location of entity’s principal office 6626 Harford Rd, Baltimore, MD 21214
One applicant reside in Balt for 2 yrs? N/A
Pecuniary interest of Baltimore City resident N/A
Attorney for licensee None/unrepresented
# in support 2
Attorney for community None/unrepresented
# of protestants 0
# of inspectors 0
Result of hearing Approved
Vote tally 2
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 None
Issues raised in audit present in this case None
Applicant John Zorzit-Secured Creditor
Business Name N/A
Trading As N/A
Address 532-34 N. Montford Avenue
Type of License Class “BD7” Beer, Wine & Liquor License (both addresses)
Reason for hearing Request for a hardship extension under the provisions of Article 2B Section 10-504(d) (both addresses)
Hearing notes

Mr. Harvey testified that Mr. Zorzit (who did not attend the hearing) is the “trustee for the secured creditor for the license.” Mr. Harvey said that Mr. Zorzit has been very diligent in trying to market the licenses and has not been successful; he argued that it would be a hardship to deny Mr. Zorzit an extension.

Chairman Fogleman pointed out that this is Mr. Zorzit’s third request for an extension for both licenses under Article 2B section 10-504(d). He referenced the transcript in the file from March 2013 in which the Board granted a second hardship extension.

Mr. Harvey answered that it was his understanding that MD Code 2B section 10-504 was never intended to apply to a secured creditor. He did not elaborate on this claim or give any statutory or caselaw evidence for his argument.

Zoning R-8
Neighborhood McElderry Park
Area demographics 3% White, 90% Black, 1% Asian. 4% Hispanic ethnicity. 51% households have children under age 18. Median household income: $33,352.
Does corp entity exist, in good standing? N/A – secured creditor
Location of entity’s principal office N/A
One applicant reside in Balt for 2 yrs? N/A
Pecuniary interest of Baltimore City resident N/A
Attorney for licensee Sean Harvey, 309 S. Conkling St
# in support 0
Attorney for community None
# of protestants 0
# of inspectors 0
Result of hearing Postponed for thirty days; the Board will issue a ruling at that time. (Chairman Fogleman added the Board “doesn’t know how this is going to end, so Mr. Zorzit would be well advised to dispose of these assets promptly.””)
Vote tally Unanimous
Portions of state law cited in decision None.
Other reasons given for decision None.
Issues raised in audit present in this case None.
Applicant John Zorzit-Secured Creditor
Business Name N/A
Trading As N/A
Address 424 N. Payson Street
Type of License Class “BD7” Beer, Wine & Liquor License (both addresses)
Reason for hearing Request for a hardship extension under the provisions of Article 2B Section 10-504(d) (both addresses)
Hearing notes

See hearing notes above for 532-34 N. Montford Street.

Zoning R-8
Neighborhood Carrollton Ridge
Area demographics 17% White, 76% Black, 1% Asian; 4% Hispanic ethnicity; 36% households have children under age 18; median household income: $28,513.80; 30% households live below the poverty line
Does corp entity exist, in good standing? N/A – secured creditor
Location of entity’s principal office N/A
One applicant reside in Balt for 2 yrs? N/A
Pecuniary interest of Baltimore City resident N/A
Attorney for licensee Mr. Sean Harvey
# in support 0
Attorney for community None
# of protestants 0
# of inspectors 0
Result of hearing Postponed for thirty days; the Board will issue a ruling at that time. (Chairman Fogleman added the Board “doesn’t know how this is going to end, so Mr. Zorzit would be well advised to dispose of these assets promptly.””)
Vote tally Unanimous
Portions of state law cited in decision None.
Other reasons given for decision None.
Issues raised in audit present in this case None.
Applicant Ming Hoang
Business Name Broadway Group, LLC
Trading As Rye
Address 807 S. Broadway
Type of License Class “BD7” Beer, Wine & Liquor License
Reason for hearing Application to transfer ownership
Hearing notes

This hearing was a continuation of the October 3, 2013 hearing. Mr. Frank Boozer, for his client, provided a copy of his client’s business entity’s certificate of good standing from SDAT. Chairman Fogleman checked the character witnesses information against state records.

Zoning B-3-2
Neighborhood 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 8513 Carrollton Parkway, New Carrollton, MD 20784
One applicant reside in Balt for 2 yrs? Yes
Pecuniary interest of Baltimore City resident 0%
Attorney for licensee Mr. Frank Boozer
# in support 1
Attorney for community None
# of protestants 0
# of inspectors 1 – Agent Fosler, on behalf of Inspector Brooks.
Result of hearing Approved.
Vote tally Unanimous
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 Memorandum of Understanding with the community associations.
Issues raised in audit present in this case

Finding 2 of the Audit found that “the Board frequently issued licenses without receiving all required documentation from licensees or applicants.” A check through the file showed that the applicant had left at least one question blank (asking the applicant how long he has lived at his current address). The Board’s own summary sheet which summarizes the case before the Board for the Commissioners stated that “The applicant interview form is incomplete; the full time operator was not designated. The Board Commissioners did not ask the applicant about the full time operator of the business. On the application form, in response to the question, “Who will be the full time operator of the establishment?” the applicant had typed “See management agreement.” However, there was no “management agreement” in the file.

2:00 p.m. cases

Disclosure: in the following case, the community association was represented by Community Law Center staff attorney Susan Hughes.

Applicant Kamal Toor, Amarjit Singh & Amanulla Niazi
Business Name RKT, LLC
Trading As Brooklyn House
Address 3638 S. Hanover Street
Type of License Class “BD7” Beer, Wine & Liquor License
Reason for hearing Application to transfer ownership of a class “BD7” BWL license presently located at 300 S. Oldham Street to 3638 S. Hanover Street
Hearing notes

Ms. Hughes, for the community association, raised, as a preliminary matter, that the proposed address is within 300 feet of a church. Under Article 2B section 9-204.3, the Board may not issue any new or transferred license to an establishment within 300 feet of a school or church.

Chairman Fogleman called the inspectors for the case to testify regarding the distances.

Inspector Martin testified that she was not sure what the address of the church was. She testified that she and Inspector John Howard had taken four measurements between the two buildings, which resulted in four very different numbers: (1)345 feet (2)341 feet (3)294 feet and (4)311 feet. The President of Citizens for a Better Brooklyn took a measurement as well, which came out to 301 feet. The inspector explained that there is a busy intersection between the prospective liquor establishment and the church building, so it was difficult to get a proper reading. Inspector Howard chimed in that he had to measure around parked cars, not in a particularly straight line.

Chairman Fogleman, confused, asked the inspectors, “isn’t the normal Liquor Board standard supposed to be point to point, as the crow flies?

Inspector Martin reiterated that there were cars in the way and a lot of traffic in the intersection. She pointed out that inspectors are not surveyors.

Chairman Fogleman ordered that the measurements be re-taken. He told the inspectors that, if traffic is a problem, they need to do the measurement early or late or work with law enforcement to close down the street.

Mr. Kodenski chimed in to say “I’m not going to tell you how they do it in Baltimore County… but I will. They laser it.” (E.g., they use a laser distance measurement tool.)

Mr. Kodenski submitted into evidence a list of nineteen names of people who were present in support of the transfer of the license. Ms. Hughes objected to the entrance of the list, on the basis that the people who were present in support of the license transfer lived in Baltimore County, not anywhere near the proposed liquor establishment. Chairman Fogleman noted that he was impressed that Ms. Hughes knew Baltimore so well that she could tell so easily and quickly where the addresses were, and Ms. Hughes responded that she has lived in Baltimore all of her life. The Board accepted the list into evidence over Ms. Hughes’ objection.

Zoning B-2-2
Neighborhood Brooklyn
Area demographics 48% White, 36% Black, 4% 2 or more races; 10% Hispanic ethnicity; 40% households have children under age 18; median household income: $33,644; 22% households live below the poverty line
Does corp entity exist, in good standing? Yes; yes. However, the LLC was incorporated on October 16, 2013, the day before this hearing. The original hearing for this application was scheduled for June 13, 2013.
Location of entity’s principal office Baltimore City
One applicant reside in Balt for 2 yrs? Yes
Pecuniary interest of Baltimore City resident 0%
Attorney for licensee Mr. Melvin Kodenski
# in support ~20
Attorney for community Ms. Susan Hughes
# of protestants 1
# of inspectors 2 – Joanne Martin and John Howard
Result of hearing Postponement.
Vote tally Unanimous
Portions of state law cited in decision None
Other reasons given for decision None
Issues raised in audit present in this case Finding 1 of the Audit stated that the “BLLC lacked formal written policies to guide the licensing process.” In this case, it was unclear exactly where the problem was with the inspectors’ difficulty in coming up with a consistent answer to what seemed to be a fairly simple question. The problem may have been with written policies or with training or with something else altogether.
Applicant Joseph Sperato-Secured Creditor
Business Name N/A
Trading As N/A
Address 2510 McElderry Street
Type of License Class “BD7” Beer, Wine & Liquor License
Reason for hearing Request for a hardship extension under the provisions of Article 2B Section 10-504(d)
Hearing notes

Mr. Kodenski, on behalf of his client, told the Board that a few people are interested in buying the license from the secured creditor. This is Mr. Sperato’s first request for a hardship extension, and he would like to recoup his investment, if he can.

Zoning R-8
Neighborhood McElderry Park
Area demographics 3% White, 90% Black, 1% Asian. 4% Hispanic ethnicity. 51% households have children under age 18. Median household income: $33,352.
Does corp entity exist, in good standing? N/A
Location of entity’s principal office N/A
One applicant reside in Balt for 2 yrs? N/A
Pecuniary interest of Baltimore City resident N/A
Attorney for licensee Mr. Melvin Kodenski
# in support 0
Attorney for community None.
# of protestants 0
# of inspectors 0
Result of hearing Approved
Vote tally Unanimous
Portions of state law cited in decision MD Code Article 2B section 10-504
Other reasons given for decision The secured creditor made a timely first request
Issues raised in audit present in this case None
Applicant George Marshall & Brenda Marshall
Business Name Marshall’s, Inc.
Trading As Marshall’s
Address 2351 Washington Boulevard
Type of License Class “BD7” Beer, Wine & Liquor License
Reason for hearing Violation of 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 statue, law or ordinance or against the public peace, safety, health, welfare, quiet or moral.” (Re: May 7, 2013, selling alcoholic beverages without a valid license)
Hearing notes

The licensee admitted the violation.

Agent Fitzgerald testified that on May 7, 2013, at 6:22pm, he entered the establishment and saw eight patrons sitting at bar. Five of the eight were drinking alcohol. The establishment could not produce a current liquor license. Agent Fitzgerald told the licensees that they would have to stop all sales immediately, but he allowed the patrons who were currently at the bar to finish their drinks. The licensees were very cooperative.

The licensee then testified that he was out of town and was not able to get back in town in a timely manner. He hadn’t gotten a notice from the BLLC that the licenses were ready to be picked up until maybe ten days beforehand. He added that running a small business by oneself is a struggle sometimes.

Ms. Carol McCoy, from a Morrell Park community association, submitted a letter from the community in support of the licensee.

Zoning B-3-2
Neighborhood Morrell Park
Area demographics 48% White, 36% Black, 2% Asian. 10% Hispanic ethnicity. 40% households have children under age 18. Median household income: $32,888.50
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? N/A
Pecuniary interest of Baltimore City resident N/A
Attorney for licensee None/unrepresented
# in support 2 (licensee + community member)
Attorney for community None
# of protestants 0
# of inspectors 1 – Agent Fitzgerald
Result of hearing The Board found one violation of 4.18 but voted to waive $250 of the $500 fine.
Vote tally Unanimous
Portions of state law cited in decision None
Other reasons given for decision Because a community member came in support, they reduced the fine by half.
Issues raised in audit present in this case None
Applicant Gino Cardinale
Business Name City Café, Inc.
Trading As City Café
Address 1001 Cathedral Street
Type of License Class ”B” Beer, Wine & Liquor License
Reason for hearing Violation of Rule 4.20(a) “No licensee shall make any installation or alteration on a licensed premise or change the manner in which alcoholic beverages are dispensed without the prior approval of the Board”. (Re: Inspector John Howard observed construction work being performed at establishment without permission from the Board, on September 23, 2013)
Hearing notes

Mr. Gary Maslan, on behalf of his client, denied the violation, though he added that it “could possibly be a technical violation.” Mr. Maslan told the board that the licensee takes great pride in his operation, that he is involved in his community, and that he is operating a law-abiding operation. The licensee is in the process of remodeling a portion of his establishment by taking up a concrete floor to install a drain. The licensee didn’t realize he would need Board approval to take out the bar and replace it. The licensee had all the other permits that he needed to do the work.

Agent Howard testified that he received a 311 complaint about construction on the licensed premises. When he arrived, he saw construction being done on the front part of the cafe. He then called Mr. Cardinale and told him that he needed Liquor Board approval to do the work on the bar.

Mr. Maslan asked the Board not to take any action against the licensee, stating, “I don’t believe that this is a technical violation, since it’s not an expansion or a dramatic change in the way in which alcoholic beverages are served.”

Zoning B-4-2
Neighborhood Mid-Town Belvedere
Area demographics 53% White, 32% Black, 8% Asian, 3% 2 or more races; 4% Hispanic ethnicity; 6% households have children under age 18; Median Household Income: $38,331; 5.5 % households live below 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? N/A
Pecuniary interest of Baltimore City resident N/A
Attorney for licensee Mr. Gary Maslan
# in support 2
Attorney for community None
# of protestants 0
# of inspectors 1 – Agent John Howard.
Result of hearing Guilty of violation. Fined $100.
Vote tally Unanimous
Portions of state law cited in decision None
Other reasons given for decision It was “pretty clear” to the Board that there was an installation and/or alteration.
Issues raised in audit present in this case None
Applicant Nidia Sierra
Business Name Honey’s Lounge, Inc.
Trading As Honey’s Lounge
Address 1722-24 Gough Street
Type of License Class “BD7” Beer, Wine & Liquor License
Reason for hearing Review of renovation plans approved by the Board on March 23, 2013
Hearing notes

Mr. Harvey, on behalf of his client, requested a postponement of the hearing. He told the Board that Ms. Sierra had contacted him only the day before the hearing and that he had been unable to talk with her about the case yet.

The Board’s official policy is to require a postponement request at least 72 hours before the scheduled hearing date.

Zoning R-8
Neighborhood Upper Fells Point
Area demographics 53% White, 32% Black, 8% Asian, 3% 2 or more races; 4% Hispanic ethnicity; 6% households have children under age 18; Median Household Income: $38,331; 5.5 % households live below poverty line
Does corp entity exist, in good standing? No, the corporate entity (Honey’s Lounge, Inc.) does not exist.
Location of entity’s principal office Corporate entity does not exist.
One applicant reside in Balt for 2 yrs? N/A
Pecuniary interest of Baltimore City resident N/A
Attorney for licensee Mr. Shawn Harvey
# in support 0
Attorney for community None
# of protestants 0
# of inspectors 0
Result of hearing Postponement approved.
Vote tally Unanimous
Portions of state law cited in decision None.
Other reasons given for decision The Board noted that there were no protestants present at the hearing.
Issues raised in audit present in this case None.

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