Reversal of ruling means earlier closing for Buddy's

June 12, 1994|By Liz Atwood | Liz Atwood,Sun Staff Writer

An Anne Arundel Circuit Court judge has ruled that the Annapolis city council acted capriciously in allowing a downtown restaurant to remain open until 2 a.m.

In an order signed Friday, Judge Eugene M. Lerner reversed the council's decision to allow Buddy's Crabs and Ribs, 100 Main St., to stay open until 2 a.m., serving liquor without food and providing live entertainment.

The judge ruled that the restaurant will have to close at midnight, a decision hailed by downtown residents who were enraged by the city council's decision to extend the restaurant's hours.

"I think it's a fair decision," said Edmund "Ted" Grier, one of 11 residents who petitioned the judge to overturn the city council's vote.

Harvey Blonder, owner of the restaurant, said late Friday that he would appeal the ruling. Meanwhile, he said, Buddy's would "continue to operate its normal hours." He would not be specific, however, whether he meant he would stay open until 2 a.m. or close at midnight.

A bitterly divided council voted 5-4 on July 13 to grant Mr. Blonder's request to extend his restaurant's hours.

At the time, the aldermen who supported the later closing said it was a matter of fairness because other restaurants are allowed to stay open until 2 a.m.

Opponents had argued that allowing Buddy's to stay open later would spur a flurry of requests from other restaurants wanting to do the same and eventually would diminish the quality of life in the neighborhood.

Downtown residents argued that the council's decision was capricious because it had rejected almost the same request from Mr. Blonder three years earlier.

Mayor Alfred A. Hopkins, who was the swing vote the second time the issue came up, said he changed his mind and voted for the 2 a.m. closing after a conversation with his wife.

Judge Lerner said that although there had been significant changes in the city, including the construction of a new parking garage, the mayor and council had given no substantive reason for reversing their earlier decision.

"The only reason put forth as the justification for allowing the conditional use this time seems to have been Mayor Hopkins' change of heart after a discussion with his wife," Judge Lerner wrote.

Mr. Grier said he hoped the ruling would set a precedent and discourage the council from granting further 2 a.m. liquor licenses.

"We really value some quiet and peace at night," he said.

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