Compromise leads to approval of Perry Hall diner liquor license

Action limits sale hours, bans carryout, separate bar

November 23, 1999|By Jay Apperson | Jay Apperson,SUN STAFF

A long dispute over a Perry Hall diner's liquor license application ended in compromise yesterday, when the restaurant's neighbors agreed to drop their opposition in exchange for a limit on alcohol sales.

Two years after it noted community opposition in rejecting the Double-T Diner's license application, the Baltimore County liquor board unanimously voted to allow the diner to sell beer and wine -- but not liquor.

The board's action also restricts the hours that alcohol can be sold, and forbids the restaurant from selling carryout alcohol or operating a bar separate from its sit-down dining areas.

After the diner owners agreed to the concessions, a bus load of Perry Hall residents dropped opposition to the license application.

"Half a loaf is better than none," said David Marks, president of the Perry Hall Improvement Association.

Peggy Marmaras, one of the diner's owners, said she was pleased with the compromise because it requires few changes from what the diner had planned.

George Marmaras, her husband and another owner, said, "If I wanted a nightclub, I would have had one 40 years ago."

The diner, which opened in April, has been the subject of complaints by residents since it was proposed three years ago. Residents said the business would cause traffic problems at the busy intersection of Joppa and Belair roads, and would attract late-night revelers to the community.

Initial plans for the diner were derailed in 1996, when a zoning official turned down the proposal, saying the restaurant would be too close to homes.

The Marmarases, who operate the Double-T diner in Rosedale, then bought an adjoining parcel and reconfigured the proposed diner's parking lots.

In 1997, the liquor board denied the diner a license, ruling that the business did not prove the community needed another outlet selling alcohol. About 40 opponents -- including an official with the Baltimore County Licensed Beverage Association -- attended the hearing on that application.

Yesterday, David F. Mister, a lawyer for the association, helped broker the compromise.

Mister said population growth in the Perry Hall and White Marsh areas, and the diner's ability to show that its patrons wanted to drink alcohol with their meals, weakened the case against the application.

The diner owners presented a petition with more than 500 signatures asking that a liquor license be approved.

Opponents, who submitted a petition with 186 signatures, said the immediate area was already the site of establishments with six liquor licenses.

In addition to the restriction to beer and wine, the deal requires the diner, which is open 24 hours a day, to cut off alcohol sales at 1 a.m., and not 2 a.m., as is normally allowed.

"We hope we made some kind of compromise where things will work out for everyone," said board chairman Philip R. Leyhe Jr.

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