Liquor board delays decision on challenge to Tiki Barge

Panel orders owners, detractors to meet and make an agreement

  • The city liquor board has delayed a decision over a challenge to the Inner Harbor's Tiki Barge.
The city liquor board has delayed a decision over a challenge… (Gene Sweeney Jr., Baltimore…)
March 03, 2011|By Erik Maza, The Baltimore Sun

Will the Tiki Barge float again this summer? Fans and critics of the Harborview Marina bar will have to wait to find out.

After a four-hour meeting Thursday, the Baltimore Board of Liquor License Commissioner did not come to a decision about the bar's liquor license, which has been challenged by some of its neighbors.

Instead, Chairman Stephan Fogleman ordered the owners of the bar and its critics to meet, hash out their differences and appear before the board again in three weeks with an agreement of some kind.

The Tiki Barge, which opened Memorial Day, drew the ire of some neighbors late in the summer.

A petition joined by about 40 neighbors accused bar patrons of obnoxious behavior, including public urination and nudity. One of the more colorful complaints accused a patron of "simulated sex with a potted palm tree."

At Thursday's hearing, which was attended by about 40 people, some spoke at length about their concerns. About 10 people testified, evenly divided between supporters and detractors.

"My problem is that it creates a safety issue for me," said Marie Washington, who lives at the Townes of Harborview, adding that the patrons of the barge tended to congregate outside her home.

Matthew Klaiber, a neighbor, said the loud crowds had become a nuisance.

Others, like Kim Acton, the former owner of Locust Point's Pazza Luna, who lives at Harborview Tower, defended it.

"There was nothing here before," she said. "This gave it life."

Mel Kodenski, an attorney who often represents bars before the liquor board, spoke for the barge's owners and said they had taken precautions, such as hiring off-duty police, to monitor patrons. He also noted that the barge hasn't caught the attention of law enforcement.

Earlier this week, a spokesman for Baltimore police described the area around the bar as "quiet."

The four-hour meeting, which began at 3 p.m. was not a record, Fogleman said. "Maybe in the top 12," he said.

Given the hearing's length and the amount of evidence presented, he said, the board members needed time to reach a decision.

"We're going to urge the parties to come together, and if they don't, we'll make a decision based on the evidence," he said.

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