Booze News: Distilled in Room 215

A blog about the Baltimore City Liquor Board

What happened at the Liquor Board on October 24, 2013.

Written by Becky Witt

Chairman Fogleman and Commissioners Smith and Jones in attendance.

1:00 pm cases

Chairman Fogleman announced before the hearings began that the 5423 O’Donnell St hearing had been administratively postponed.

The Chairman also noted that any approvals issued by the Board are only preliminary, and that “you’ll have to submit many things” before a licensee can actually operate under their license.

Applicant Freda Byrnes
Business Name 336 Charles, LLC
Trading As Homeslyce
Address 336 N. Charles Street
Type of License Class “B” Beer, Wine & Liquor License
Reason for hearing Application to add basement for business
Hearing notes

Mr. Kodenski, on behalf of his client, stated that she is requesting to use the basement of the establishment for overflow for private parties and other activities. Mr. Kodenski promised that his client would get all necessary permits, including occupancy permits and mentioned that she has reached out to the Downtown Partnership. The licensee is considering creating an indoor bocce ball court downstairs, which is why there is a lot of open space in the plan for the basement. The licensee submitted a petition signed by patrons in support of the plan. Chairman Fogleman checked in the file for confirmation that the corporate entity is in good standing and that the character witnesses are property owners and registered voters in Baltimore City, though he mentioned that he thought it was unnecessary.

Zoning B-4-2 (Central Business District)
Neighborhood Downtown
Area demographics 39% White, 37% Black, 16% Asian, 3 % 2 or more races; 5% Hispanic ethnicity; 9% of households have children under age 18; Median Household Income: $38,146; 18% households live below poverty line
Does corp entity exist, in good standing? Yes; yes
Location of entity’s principal office 336 N. Charles St, Baltimore, MD 21201
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 – Agent John Howard
Result of hearing Approved
Vote tally Unanimous
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 None
Issues raised in audit present in this case None
Applicant Robert & Jamie Makarovich
Business Name Robjam, Inc.
Trading As Clipper Mill Inn
Address 1619 Union Avenue
Type of License Class “B” Beer, Wine & Liquor License
Reason for hearing Review of a transfer pending for more than 180 days under the provision of Article 2B Section 10-504(d)
Hearing notes

The applicant testified that the location is currently open and operating. The application is a live entertainment request that hasn’t been finished yet; the applicant seeks an extension of 180 days. Chairman Fogleman asked the applicant, “what’s the holdup?” The applicant responded that he has to schedule and complete a zoning inspection. There was a zoning hearing on May 14, at which the BMZA (Board of Municipal Zoning Appeals) approved Clipper Mill Inn’s application. There are letters of support from the community in the file.

Zoning M-2-1 (Industrial District)
Neighborhood Hampden
Area demographics 77% White, 12% Black, 5% Asian; 4% Hispanic ethnicity; 18% households have children under age 18; median household income: $54,278
Does corp entity exist, in good standing? Yes; no
Location of entity’s principal office 1619 Union Ave, Baltimore, MD 21211
Attorney for licensee Mr. James O’Keeffe
# in support 1
Attorney for community None
# of protestants 0
# of inspectors 1 – Jeffrey Ray
Result of hearing Board granted a hardship extension of 60 days to complete live entertainment.
Vote tally Unanimous
Portions of state law cited in decision None.
Other reasons given for decision All that is left is a few inspections.
Issues raised in audit present in this case Unclear. The docket lists this case as a transfer, but the original application was for live entertainment and did not involve a transfer of ownership. The Audit did not discuss the seemingly endless hardship extensions that the Board is willing to give to licensees under Article 2B section 10-504(d), though the Code specifically states that the Board has authority to give only one hardship extension.

2:00 pm cases

Applicant Christina Carey & Davd O’Ferrall
Business Name Grand Cru, LLC
Trading As Grand Cru
Address 5911 York Road
Type of License Class “BD7” Beer, Wine & Liquor License
Reason for hearing Review of a transfer pending for more than 180 days under the provision of Article 2B Section 10-504(d)
Hearing notes

Mr. Carey appeared on behalf of licensees. He testified that there had been some delays in the scheduled interior renovations of Belvedere Square Market. He admitted that he had neglected this transfer. He added that he had “received clearance” from SDAT regarding his delinquent personal property tax returns. He asked for a hardship extension for as short as 30 days.

Chairman Fogleman asked whether Grand Cru open and operating and the licensee responded that it was.

Two community representatives were at the hearing: Ms. LaVerne Nicholson-Sykes and Ms. Gail Sunderman, the President and Vice President, respectively, of the Belvedere Improvement Association, Inc. Ms. Nicholson-Sykes testified that Belvedere Square has gone through a lot of renovations in the past two years. BIA had submitted a letter of support for the project in August 2011. At the time, the plan had been for Grand Cru to serve beer, wine, and liquor to patrons in entire market. At the time, it was the only vendor in the market with a liquor license. Since then, Atwater’s has received a liquor license. Within a half block radius, there have been two additional liquor licenses added since August 2011. Therefore, due to changed circumstances since the application was originally filed, BIA doesn’t feel as though Grand Cru needs another hardship extension.

Ms. Sunderman added that BIA is not sure what the purpose of the expansion would be at this point. If an extension is granted, this would be the third extension under section 10-504. She mentioned that no one from Grand Cru has met with community to say what their plans are or how they intend to operate, given changed circumstances.

The licensee’s representative agreed that circumstances had changed: Grand Cru no longer plans to expand into 511 Belvedere Road, because that space is now rented to another business. He added that Grand Cru wants people to be able to take drinks from Grand Cru into the rest of the market as they shop.

The BIA representatives objected, saying that the liquor license in the market is for table service only, not for drifting around the market.

Chairman Fogleman reminded the community representatives that the community had a chance to fight about these issues when the case was originally heard; he told them that the Board does not want to reopen the whole case again. If anything, he pointed out, the scope of the project has shrunk since the original application.

Ms. Sunderman pushed back, saying that there are two liquor licenses now serving the same area, now that Atwater’s has been approved for a liquor license.

Commissioner Smith pointed out, however, that the community hadn’t opposed the Atwater’s license.

Zoning B-2-2
Neighborhood Belvedere
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; no. The licensee testified that he had rectified the personal property return issue with SDAT, but, as of October 29, 2013, SDAT’s database says that Grand Cru, LLC is not in good standing.
Location of entity’s principal office 527 E. Belvedere Ave., Baltimore, MD 21212
One applicant reside in Balt for 2 yrs? N/A
Pecuniary interest of Baltimore City resident N/A
Attorney for licensee None.
# in support 1
Attorney for community None.
# of protestants 2
# of inspectors 0
Result of hearing 60 day extension granted.
Vote tally Unanimous.
Portions of state law cited in decision None.
Other reasons given for decision The Board is not comfortable denying the expansion retroactively, which the Board believes is what the community is asking them to do.
Issues raised in audit present in this case Unclear. In the docket, the case is listed as a transfer, but the original application was for expansion of the location, not for a transfer of ownership. The Audit did not discuss the seemingly endless hardship extensions that the Board is willing to give to licensees under Article 2B section 10-504(d), though the Code specifically states that the Board has authority to give only one hardship extension.
Applicant Mondel Powell & Ernst Valery
Business Name Teavolve 2, LLC
Trading As trade name pending
Address 855 N. Wolfe Street
Type of License Class “B” Beer, Wine & Liquor License
Reason for hearing Review of a transfer pending for more than 180 days under the provision of Article 2B Section 10-504(d)
Hearing notes

The licensee testified that he has been having construction problems and issues with the developer and with Johns Hopkins. He testified that he will be ready to open in early spring.

Zoning B-2-3
Neighborhood Middle East
Area demographics 5% White, 89% Black, 2% Asian; 2% Hispanic ethnicity; 33% households have children under age 18; median household income: $15,415; 47% households live below the poverty line
Does corp entity exist, in good standing? Yes; yes.
Location of entity’s principal office 857 N. Wolfe St, Baltimore, MD
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 1
Attorney for community None
# of protestants 0
# of inspectors 0
Result of hearing Approved – 180-day extension.
Vote tally Unanimous.
Portions of state law cited in decision None.
Other reasons given for decision Unforeseen construction delays.
Issues raised in audit present in this case Unclear. The docket lists this case as a transfer, and it was impossible to tell from the hearing whether the original case was a transfer of ownership or location under section 10-503 (which MUST be completed within 180 days or it lapses) or whether it was an application for a new license, in which case, it might qualify for a hardship extension under 10-504(d).The Audit did not discuss the seemingly endless hardship extensions that the Board is willing to give to licensees under Article 2B section 10-504(d), though the Code specifically states that the Board has authority to give only one hardship extension.
Applicant David Holmes
Business Name None Provided
Trading As trade name pending
Address 606 S. Broadway
Type of License Class “B” Beer, Wine & Liquor License
Reason for hearing Review of a transfer pending for more than 180 days under the provision of Article 2B Section 10-504(d)
Hearing notes

Mr. Holmes was present at the hearing, unrepresented. He testified that he appreciates the extensions that have been granted (at both 600 and 606 Broadway). The commercial project has advanced, but he has yet to identify which tenants will be signing on for which license.

Joanne Masopust, for the Fells Point Community Organization (FPCO) testified that the two licenses in question have been nonoperational for many years. At a recent meeting with FPCO, Mr. Holmes had stated that the buildings at 600 and 606 Broadway wouldn’t be available until April 2014, at which point they would be turned over to lessee. He had added that it would take an additional 90-100 days to turn over the properties to the lessees. Ms. Masopust added that FPCO has never opposed a hardship extension before, but that the time has come to say enough is enough. When Mr. Holmes is ready to proceed with his project, he can apply for a new license at that time.

Mr. Holmes, in response, suggested a compromise: that he “could allow one of the licenses to be vacated” but keep the other. Mr. Holmes has “an ideal tenant for one address,” but that until the tenant knows for sure that the Red Line is a go, they’re sitting on the sidelines. Mr. Holmes was hopeful that decisions on the Red Line will become clear in the early part of 2014.

Ms. Masopust responded that the Red Line has been dragging on for a long time. When the Red Line comes through, the lessee could apply for a new license and could go forward at that time.

Chairman Fogleman then asked Mr. Holmes for the earliest date that the licenses could become operational. Mr. Holmes responded that Summer 2014 is the earliest that they could be ready to go.

The license transfer was originally approved on October 5, 2006, before the current Board of Liquor License Commissioners were appointed in 2007.

Zoning B-2-2
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? 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.
# in support 1 – David Holmes
Attorney for community None.
# of protestants 1 – Joanne Masopust
# of inspectors 0
Result of hearing Hardship extesnion denied.
Vote tally Unanimous.
Portions of state law cited in decision 10-504
Other reasons given for decision

Chairman Fogleman noted that the license was originally transfered in 2006, “before this incarnation of the Liquor Board even knew what a Liquor Board was. We have long hoped that construction would begin, that license would reactivate. We’ve granted several extensions. The Board today determines that licenses at both addresses are not active. We’re not able to give any more extensions. It’s with sadness that we do this.”

Issues raised in audit present in this case None.
Applicant Richard Karoll
Business Name Dead End Bar & Grill, LLC
Trading As Dead End Bar & Grill
Address 933-35 Fell Street
Type of License Class ‘D” Beer, Wine & Liquor License
Reason for hearing Review of a transfer pending for more than 180 days under the provision of Article 2B Section 10-504(d)
Hearing notes

Mr. Kodenski, on behalf of his clients, informed the Board that the licensees have run into construction problems and problems with the Baltimore City Commission for Historical and Architectural Preservation. They’ve gutted the interior; the buildouts will take eighty days to complete. Mr. Kodenski pointed out that Mr. Richard Karroll has left the project and that the new applicants will file an amended application within the next thirty days.

Chairman Fogleman asked, “why do the witnesses present have standing at this point?” Mr. Kodenski replied that the people present are associated with the business entity on the application, Dead End Bar and Grill, LLC.

Mr. Kodenski added that there is over one million dollars invested in project.

Zoning B-2-2
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 Baltimore City
Attorney for licensee Mr. Melvin Kodenski
# in support 2
Attorney for community None
# of protestants 0
# of inspectors 0
Result of hearing Approved – 180 day extension.
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 Unclear. The docket lists this case as a transfer, and it was impossible to tell from the hearing whether the original case was a transfer of ownership or location under section 10-503 (which MUST be completed within 180 days or it lapses) or whether it was an application for a new license, in which case, it might qualify for a hardship extension under 10-504(d).

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