Challenges to liquor license renewals are sparse

March 29, 1994|By Norris P. West | Norris P. West,Sun Staff Writer

As the deadline nears, a campaign aiming to challenge liquor sellers' rights to renew their licenses is hitting a snag -- namely, that few people are blowing the whistle.

City residents have challenged the license renewals of only nine establishments that sell alcoholic beverages, a number that has not met the expectations of the City-Wide Liquor Coalition for Better Laws and Regulation.

The group launched a drive on March 8 to urge residents and community groups to protest the renewal of licenses for troublesome bars, liquor stores and restaurants.

Coalition staff member Kevin M. Jordan said he was surprised but not disappointed by the number of licenses challenged so far. He said he expects more complaints to be filed

before the deadline. Petitions or letters protesting license renewals must be sent to the Baltimore City Board of Liquor License Commissioners by Thursday.

"Maybe people are waiting, thinking they shouldn't file protests until March 31," said Mr. Jordan, a community organizer for Citizens Planning and Housing Association. "We've had a good response. People are interested."

The coalition is encouraging residents to challenge the licenses of bars and package liquor stores that promote drug dealing, loitering and blight. The group says too many liquor vendors operate in the city's poor and predominantly black neighborhoods.

The licenses of all 1,650 establishments selling or serving alcohol

in the city are coming up for renewal. The liquor board will hold hearings next month on establishments that draw complaints from at least 10 residents.

Mr. Jordan said the campaign to clean up problem liquor stores and bars will continue.

"We do think this effort is heightening awareness," he said, "and it may take some time for the message to trickle out.

Carolyn M. Massey, president of the Rosemont Homeowners and Tenants Association in West Baltimore, worked with three other community leaders to file a petition against Brown's Liquors, at 2300 Edmondson Ave.

Tae Tyo Hong, owner of Brown's Liquors, could not be reached for comment.

Ms. Massey said there are too many liquor vendors in the area.

In addition to Brown's Liquors, petitions have been filed against the Red Room, 4604 Eastern Ave.; Dead Freddie's, 7209 Harford Road; Club Orpheus, 1001 E. Pratt St.; Admiral's Cup, 1645 Thames St.; Looney's Pub, 2900 O'Donnell St.; Al's Liquors, Fulton and Lanvale streets; Best Food Market, 1200 Edmondson Ave.; and Adams Liquor Store, 1401 Edmondson Ave.

Aaron L. Stansbury, the liquor board's executive secretary, said his agency receives five to 10 complaints each March to challenge license renewals. He said he had expected a larger number, given the coalition's effort.

"What we have up to this point is average," Mr. Stansbury said.

He advised petitioners to make their complaints specific and to include facts that can substantiated.

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