City council actions preclude more late-night Annapolis bars 2 controversial measures rejected by members

November 14, 1995|By Ellen Gamerman | Ellen Gamerman,SUN STAFF

The Annapolis city council snuffed out the possibility of more late-night bars in the historic district at least temporarily when it rejected two controversial measures allowing more nightclubs last night.

The council defeated a bill sponsored by Alderman Carl O. Snowden, a Ward 5 Democrat, that would have allowed more downtown restaurants with midnight closings to receive zoning permits for 2 a.m. closing times without additional permits or public hearings.

The council rejected the measure in 5-3 vote. Voting for the bill were Mr. Snowden and aldermen Shep Tullier and M. Theresa DeGraff. Alderman Ellen O. Moyer abstained.

Mr. Snowden had said his bill would have applied only to Buddy's Crabs & Ribs and Maria's Sicilian Ristorante and Cafe -- establishments he says were unfairly denied 2 a.m. licenses in the past.

The council also rejected, in a 6-2 vote, a similar bill offered by Ms. Moyer that would have allowed all downtown restaurants to stay open until 2 a.m. after the businesses submitted to public hearings for permits.

Only Ms. Moyer and Ms. DeGraff voted for the bill.

Mr. Snowden, a supporter of late-night bars, voted against the measure, along with Louise Hammond and four other aldermen. Mayor Alfred A. Hopkins abstained but said he would call the measure up for debate again next month.

The prospect of a vote on the late-night bills took many aldermen by surprise last night, even though the item was on the agenda. Several aldermen had counted on a delay until Dec. 13 to go over proposed compromises.

But Ms. Hammond, a Ward 1 Democrat, reminded the council that under a law passed this spring, the council is required to pass legislation within 120 days of its introduction. The time limit on Mr. Snowden's bill expired by last night's meeting.

Ms. Hammond, who represents historic district residents, condemned the amendments as ruining the Ward 1 Sector Study, a delicate compromise controlling the commercialization of her district.

"Everyone in this town has lived up to the agreement except for one group and that's this city council," she said.

Mr. Snowden defended himself last night after being accused of supporting bills that critics said would give Annapolis the drunken party atmosphere of Georgetown.

"I think I have some sensitivity to balance in this city," he said.

Meanwhile, Mayor Hopkins made his first public statements about late-night bar closings, appearing both to condemn and endorse 2 a.m. closings for all downtown restaurants.

"I think this town would be better off if no one had a license beyond midnight," he said. "I'll say this: Whatever one license is, it should apply to everyone."

Before announcing that position, Mr. Hopkins delivered a speech that ranged from a description of George Washington dancing in the council chamber to a history of bar life in 1930s Annapolis.

In other matters, the council approved, by a 7-1 vote, a measure allowing sidewalk cafes permanently on the city's streets. Ms. Hammond voted against the measure and Alderman Samuel Gilmer, a Ward 3 Democrat, abstained.

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