Annapolis tavern owners want the city to impose a curfew on teen-agers to reduce noise in the downtown area.
City officials are considering the request, made after a group of tavern owners, residents andcity officials spent four weekends touring downtown last fall. The group was formed after downtown residents complained about noise last summer.
The curfew is one of several recommendations made by the tavern owners in a letter to the city written by Jerry Hardesty, owner of Middletown Tavern. The owners also would like the city to strengthen itsopen-container law, crack down on users of fake identification cards, hire seasonal police officers and offer free parking to restaurant patrons in the Noah Hillman parking garage.
City Administrator Michael Mallinoff said officials are considering proposing a curfew for City Dock during the summer but are concerned over its constitutionality. Mallinoff said similar limits could be imposed in areas known for drug dealing.
City Attorney Jonathan Hodgson is reviewing existing laws in Atlanta and Quantico, Va., Mallinoff said. He said Mayor Alfred A. Hopkins is wary of proposing a curfew.
"The mayor is not an advocate of curfews, but we're trying to do something," he said. "Who knows? Maybe we'll implement it."
The call for a curfew supports what tavern owners have claimed all along -- that underage youths hanging out downtown cause much of the noise. Hardesty wrote that tavern owners "are being unfairly assigned the blame for all of the illsthat plague the downtown."
Residents, however, are sticking to their claim that people drinking in downtown bars cause most of the noise.
"From the standpoint of the residents, a curfew would perhaps be of some help, but the major problem is the people going into the taverns to drink," said John Prehn, president of the Ward One Residents Association.
Prehn said residents would like the city to open a center where teen-agers could hang out, but added that tavern owners are "disguising the problem" by proposing a curfew.
"There are residents who do favor that approach," he said. "Will it eliminate all of the problems? No."
Prehn praised tavern owners and police officers for responding to residents' concerns by weeding out underage drinkers, refusing to serve anyone intoxicated and asking people to be quiet when they leave bars.
He said the association hasn't given up on cutting back closing hours for downtown bars, from 2 a.m. to midnight. Alderman John R. Hammond, R-Ward 1, proposed rolling back closing hours last summer, when residents turned out in force to oppose a plan by Harvey Blonder to extend the hours of his restaurant, Buddy's Crabs and Ribs, to 2 a.m. The City Council rejected Blonder's plan.
Hammond dropped his proposal to roll back closing hours when tavernowners protested, but Prehn said residents may raise the issue againif downtown doesn't quiet down this summer.
Tavern owners and residents agreed on one thing -- that King George Street, a major thoroughfare for people leaving downtown bars, needs flashing red stoplights on weekends to slow drivers down.