Bar owner hit with a $5,000 fine

Alcohol served to a minor twice within 60 days

residents' concerns are not addressed

Baltimore & Region

October 28, 2005|By LYNN ANDERSON | LYNN ANDERSON,SUN REPORTER

The Baltimore liquor board fined a bar owner $5,000 yesterday for serving alcohol to a minor twice within a 60-day period and failing to adhere to operating regulations, but stopped short of addressing residents' concerns about the liquor establishment.

Residents who live near Washington Liquors in the 400 block of Washington St. say the bar has been a problem for about three years. They expressed disappointment when board members said they couldn't do more to force licensee Kiff Kim of Ellicott City to address noise, loitering and trash.

When a spokesman for the community group, Dr. Patrick Tong, who also lives in the East Baltimore neighborhood, tried to explain that Kim was uncooperative, board member Edward Smith Jr. dismissed him. Smith said liquor board rules prohibited members from hearing the testimony.

"I will not prejudice myself by listening to something that I can't act on," he said.

Smith explained to stunned residents - who had been told weeks ago by liquor board administrators that they would be able to detail problems with Kim before the board - that because Kim's license had been renewed in April they would have to wait another year to report on their concerns.

"You're going to have to wait until March," Smith said, referring to the next license renewal period.

Later, board Chairman Mark S. Fosler told a reporter that he probably would meet with Kim and residents to make sure they were on the right track to a resolution. He denied that the liquor board was reneging on recent promises to provide better support to neighborhoods that are having trouble with liquor establishments.

Kim and neighbors who support him said that Tong and the other residents were protesting the license renewal in an attempt to force Kim out of the area - a few blocks from Johns Hopkins Hospital - to improve the value of their properties.

Earlier in the meeting, Smith and the other board members fined Kim $5,000 plus administrative fees for serving alcohol to a 19-year-old state police cadet on July 17 and Sept. 10, and for failing to keep the tavern side of his bar open as required by his license - instead selling package goods to go.

City police who visited the establishment on three occasions in recent months testified that the tavern was not open for business. They said they found a cat in the tavern and noticed that the bar sink had not been used.

Kim said he serves beer in plastic cups so he doesn't need to use the sink, but Smith told him it was illegal to serve alcoholic beverages in anything but sanitized glasses. He told Kim that he was close to losing his license.

"You have one foot on a banana peel and the other in the no-license grave," Smith said.

lynn.anderson@baltsun.com

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