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Liquor Issues

by Brew Editors8:07 pmJun 18, 20130

Baltimore Liquor Board: June 13 Meeting

Above: Attorney Melvin Kodenski representing John Ferrari and Mary Uttenreither (of Sweet Caroline’s in Locust Point) before the Baltimore Liquor Board.

Another Liquor Board meeting, another set of audit recommendations either ignored or finessed.

In Community Law Center blogger Christina Schoppert Devereux’s latest post, you can see some examples of how the board is still approving licenses before all the documentation is in place. (Findings 2 and 3 in the state’s recent scorching audit of the board took them to task for this.)

Devereux explains what she means in her weekly email to Brew editors highlighting her latest observations after sitting through their weekly meeting:

“In the past two weeks, the Board has started saying, when they make these approvals, that they are ‘preliminary approvals’ and that the applicant will have to get all the required documentation to the Board before the license is issued.

This basically comes down to the difference between “approval” and “issuance.” The Commissioners approve licenses, and after they approve them, the Board issues them.

In “preliminarily” approving the license, the Board is giving itself an out if all the documentation ends up not being in place.

There are two problems with this, though.

First, the audit shows that the documentation is not being consistently checked after approval and before issuance (it found that 28 out of 30 licenses did not meet all legal requirements).

Second, when the Board approves a license without having all information (such as the name of the LLC or the residence of the applicant), it is approving an application that the surrounding community – whom state law gives a concrete role in evaluating the application – has not had the opportunity to review, because it will be changed after the public hearing.”

If you read this latest installment of Booze News, Devereux says, you can see this pattern and a few other problems, including Touchdown getting a license (even though it “doesn’t have proper zoning”) and Baltimore Pho getting a second hardship extension (meaning the Board breathed life into a license that had expired by operation of law.”)

A Place to Have Breakfast

Devereux also keeps an eye out for positive angles. There’s a mostly good-news story, she says, in the approval of a new license for Santorini’s Greek and Italian Cuisine to come into the little white building on York Road where Field’s Old Trail Tavern used to be.

According to Devereux’s post, there’s a “Memorandum of Understanding” with the York Road Partnership that will become part of the Santorini’s license upon issuance.

Councilman Bill Henry showed up and said that the applicant has provided “all the cooperation we could ask for” and is a “textbook example of how neighborhoods can work with a prospective new business” to minimize negatives and accentuate positives in a neighborhood.

Councilman Henry and others are also very excited, Devereux writes, about having a breakfast place nearby.

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