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Liquor Issues

by Fern Shen10:36 amJul 18, 20130

Laundromat granted a liquor license? It happened in Baltimore!

Another sudsy saga from the Liquor Board.

Above: Google Streetview captured a Guinness sign in the window of this Harford Road laundromat, granted a license by the Baltimore Liquor Board in 2006.

A laundromat on Harford Road appeared to be selling alcohol – the liquor license inspector saw it (and photographed it on his cellphone) and Google Streetview captured it as well.

The somewhat fuzzy Google image showed a Heineken beer poster in the window at 6506 Harford Road, right under the “Laundromat and Cleaners” sign.

But when the issue came to the attention of the Baltimore Liquor Board, and swirled to the surface at last week’s hearing, the only thing found to actually be lacking was a “use and occupancy permit” from city zoning.

Turns out that, in 2006, the Liquor Board had granted a license to that address, at a time when it was a working laundromat.

The incident was yet another classic case picked up by attorney Christina Schoppert Devereux, who has been blogging lately about the weekly meetings of the famously quirky – some would say rogue – regulatory agency that was recently the subject of a critical audit by the state.

How to Buy Liquor (Without Ever Leaving the Laundromat)

You can read more detail about the sudsy saga of Liquor Station in the most recent installment of “Booze News,” a blog sponsored by the Community Law Center that we have been linking to regularly here at Baltimore Brew.

According to Devereux’s account from the July 11 meeting, the license granted seven years ago to that establishment (in the Westfield neighborhood of Northeast Baltimore) covered three adjacent addresses, 6506, 6508 and 6510 Harford Road.

The licensees told the commissioners they originally only sold liquor at their packaged goods store at 6510 Harford, but “always planned” to remove the interior wall and expand into the adjacent space.

“The licensee’s husband then explained that when they stopped making money on the laundromat, they decided to break through [the wall] 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),” Devereux writes.

Devereux’s got the nitty-gritty if readers want it (e.g., explaining the significance of the legal debate at the hearing over whether the knocked-out wall was load-bearing).

Bottom line: the Liquor Board, in two separate actions, cited the original licensees for not having the zoning permit and approved transferring the license to new owners who are applying for a use and occupancy permit and seeking a letter of non-objection” from the neighborhood association.

Mike Hilliard, of the HARBEL community association, was present at the hearing. He expressed concern that if the new owners did not put the wall back, a precedent would be set “of the Board retroactively approving an expansion that occurred without Board approval.” The board, nonetheless, approved the requested transfer.

A visit by The Brew yesterday to Liquor Station confirms that it is operating in a space that encompasses all three addresses and is selling liquor, wine and beer.

A helpful employee, in fact, guided a shopper to a case stocked with Heavy Seas, Fat Tire and such, as well as the basic Budweiser, Coors, etc. We went with a pack of Fat Tire.

Other “Booze News” News

Readers wanting to keep up on efforts to revive Hollins Market should check out Devereux’s blog to read about about appearances by licensees for two establishments over there, Zella’s Pizzeria and Mi Ranchito.

A planned Hampden brick-over pizza restaurant – Paulie Gee’s on Chestnut Avenue – was also on the docket. “The applicant presented a floor plan and a business plan demonstrating support from ‘New York restaurateurs and bloggers,’” Devereux wrote.

One potential hot topic was deferred, Rumors, at 2600 E. Monument Street. This was this was their fourth postponement, according to Devereux, who notes that their case is up on the docket today.

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