Buddy's Crabs and Ribs, a popular downtown Annapolis restaurant, can't stay open past midnight even temporarily, an Anne Arundel Circuit judge ruled yesterday.
The ruling was the latest in a series of legal maneuvers concerning whether the restaurant, which has a license allowing it to sell liquor until 2 a.m., should be allowed to stay open until 2 a.m.
The controversy stems from the Annapolis City Council's change of heart last year.
In 1990, the council denied Buddy's application for a special exception to the city zoning code so that it could close at 2 a.m. This forced the restaurant to close at midnight.
In 1993, the restaurant submitted essentially the same application. This time the mayor and an alder man switched their votes, granting the special zoning exception that allowed Buddy's to stay open two hours later.
A group of citizens appealed the council's decision, and last month Judge Eugene M. Lerner ruled that the vote-switch was capricious and illegal. He said there was no valid reason for the council to change its mind.
Judge Lerner's ruling stripped the restaurant of the special zoning status allowing the later closing.
Yesterday's hearing concerned restaurant owner Harry Blonder's request for an injunction allowing the restaurant to open later while lawyers for the city and the restaurant prepare for trial on the issue. The council had voted to support Mr. Blonder's request that the restaurant remain open until 2 a.m. for the next six months.
Mr. Blonder's lawyer, Alan J. Hyatt, did not return several telephone calls to his office yesterday.
Annapolis residents who oppose the 2 a.m. closing say that it increases noise and crime in the area.