Carryout, liquor store warned

Closings possible under nuisance law

July 31, 2008|By Stephen Kiehl | Stephen Kiehl,Sun reporter

The Baltimore Police Department notified a liquor store and a carryout yesterday that they might be shut down under the city's new public nuisance law because of high levels of criminal activity in the stores.

In the past year and a half, police said, they have logged nine incidents of violence and drug activity at Linden Bar and Liquors in the 900 block of W. North Ave. and eight incidents at Jimmy's Carryout in the 2500 block of E. Hoffman St.

Each establishment will have a hearing before the police commissioner - Linden Liquors on Aug. 13 and Jimmy's Carryout on Sept. 9 - and the commissioner will decide whether they should be closed. The notices mark the first use of the city's public nuisance law since it was revised this year. It had not been used in more than 15 years, partly because loopholes made it difficult to enforce, city officials said.

A man was shot and killed July 19 inside Linden Liquors, and neighbors of the store have been trying to get it shut down for months, saying it is a hazard to their safety.

"I think the city needs to use every tool in its arsenal to get that location closed and protect the community," said City Councilman William H. Cole IV, whose district includes Linden Liquors. "That's what the legislation was designed to do, and I'm thrilled that the police commissioner decided to use it."

The decision to send "padlock notices" to the two businesses was made by Police Commissioner Frederick H. Bealefeld III, Housing Commissioner Paul T. Graziano and State's Attorney Patricia C. Jessamy. Mayor Sheila Dixon issued a statement supporting the move.

Jimmy's Carryout is owned by Fat Sang Lai and Ji Ying Yu Lai, according to the city. A call to the store was answered yesterday by a man who said he did not speak English. He then hung up the phone.

Richard Bittner, a lawyer for Chang K. Yim, the owner of Linden Liquors, said yesterday that the North Avenue corridor near the store has long been a site of drug activity. He said he is filing an appeal of the city liquor board's decision in April to suspend Yim's liquor license.

That suspension was stayed by a Circuit Court judge, and the store has remained open, frustrating residents of nearby neighborhoods. They have collected enough signatures to compel the liquor board to hold another hearing Aug. 14, at which the license could be again suspended or revoked.

"I'm really happy to see the city trying to break new ground in this," said Remington Stone, president of the Reservoir Hill Improvement Association. "It affects the well-being of most everyone in this neighborhood."

stephen.kiehl@baltsun.com

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