Midnight liquor cutoff plan argued Noise, fairness are the issues ANNAPOLIS/SOUTH COUNTY -- Davidsonville * Edgewater * Shady Side * Deale

August 31, 1993|By John Rivera | John Rivera,Staff Writer

A proposal to prevent new restaurants in Annapolis from serving liquor after midnight drew praise from residents of the Historic District at a public hearing yesterday.

But the measure drew a wary response from restaurant owners, who said that, because the bill's wording is vague, they want assurances that existing 2 a.m. licenses would be exempted.

Alderman John Hammond said he introduced the bill because he had heard that several restaurants were planning to apply for 2 a.m. liquor licenses after the council voted last month to allow Buddy's Crabs and Ribs to serve alcohol until 2 a.m.

"With the crack in the door opened by Buddy's, others are lining up to rush in behind," the Ward 1 Republican said.

Tavern owner Mike Riordan said that, during the recent Ward One Sector Study on ways to improve the Historic District, he and fellow restaurateurs agreed to the ban on future 2 a.m. liquor licenses as a compromise. In return, residents agreed that there would be no limitations placed on bars or restaurants that are already operating.

But as the bill is written, that exemption is not clear, said the owner of Riordan's Saloon on the City Dock.

To limit all Annapolis restaurants to serving alcohol only until midnight would mean that they would lose business to establishments outside the city, he said. "There would be an uneven playing field to compete on," Mr. Riordan said.

But Ted Greer, who lives on Fleet Street near the dock, said the bill would limit the noise residents suffer nightly from bar patrons.

"Fake IDs are the norm down there. And try to find one sober human being," Mr. Greer said.

"We're not advocating a temperance movement," he said. "Surely, we have some rights to expect limits. . . . I say, let's put a lid on it."

Aldermen Carl O. Snowden said he expects the bill to be amended to exempt existing restaurants and bars.

The Ward 5 Democrat also said that he does not believe there are enough votes to pass the measure in its present form.

Mr. Snowden and Aldermen Theresa DeGraff, R-Ward 7, and Joseph Sachs, R-Ward 4, sitting as the City Council's Rules Committee, voted to postpone a recommendation on the bill until after the Economic Matters Committee considers the measure's impact at its Sept. 15 meeting.

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