Canton Square neighbors say tavern encourages unruliness

June 26, 1996|By Alex Gordon | Alex Gordon,CONTRIBUTING WRITER

Claiming to be at wits' end over disturbances they say stem from the Bay Cafe, residents of the Canton Square community are squaring off against the nearby restaurant and bar.

Early this month, residents filed a complaint with the city Board of Liquor License Commissioners alleging that the Bay Cafe encourages unruly behavior on Sunday nights that disturbs the neighborhood.

David Naumann, owner of the Bay Cafe, says it is not responsible for all the problems cited by neighbors. He added that "it's hard to control people once they get 150 yards from here."

The two sides will present their cases before the liquor board at a hearing scheduled July 11.

At issue are neighbors' complaints that, upon leaving the restaurant, Bay Cafe patrons destroy property, litter, urinate and vomit on sidewalks, park illegally and make noise until 2 a.m.

Boston Street separates the Bay Cafe from the Canton Square community of about 135 townhouses.

"This has been three or four years of constant aggravation," said Caroline Burkhart, a Canton Square resident for nine years and one of the 22 residents who signed the complaint.

Naumann contends, however, that he was unaware of the problems between Canton Square and the 7-year-old Bay Cafe, which in July 1994 and November 1995 had its license suspended and paid fines for selling alcohol to minors. The first that he had heard of the issue, he says, was the notification he received of the liquor board hearing.

"Naturally, we will make mistakes, but we are definitely willing to work with the community and correct them," Naumann said.

Naumann and manager Bud Craven say they have taken measures to better handle the Sunday crowds of more than 500. The Bay Cafe has employed the Trident Group -- a private security company of off-duty, uniformed Baltimore police officers for two years to patrol the grounds and the adjacent Canton Cove waterfront community.

The security officers are assigned to ensure that patrons do not leave with open containers and, as of last Sunday, they began to issue citations, Naumann and Craven say. In addition, they say the Bay Cafe provides six portable toilets on its grounds for the Sunday night activity.

Idalea Rubin, a nine-year Canton Square resident who organized the complaint effort, says the community does not want to put the Bay Cafe out of business. In their complaint, the neighbors seek: limits on Sunday hours the Bay Cafe can serve alcohol (at present, the deck bar closes at midnight and the inside bar at 1 a.m.); permit parking for patrons who wish to park in Canton Square; sobriety checks in the neighborhood; and security officers to monitor the neighborhood.

"Certain aspects of our daily operation have nothing to do with some of their complaints," Craven said. "The Canton Square residents need to address most of their complaints, like speeding, to the Police Department."

Craven said, however, the Bay Cafe is willing to provide security for Canton Square.

In the wake of the Canton Square neighborhood's complaint, the liquor board is conducting a preliminary investigation of the Bay Cafe before the hearing date next month. "We are sending an inspector every Sunday," said Aaron L. Stansbury, executive secretary.

According to Stansbury, the Bay Cafe -- if found in violation -- could face suspension, restrictions or revocation of its liquor license.

Pub Date: 6/26/96

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