Saying their neighborhood is “over-saturated with liquor licenses,” residents rallied against a proposed license transfer to 805 S. Broadway and met with success earlier this month at the Baltimore Liquor Board.
At its Oct. 3 meeting, the Board of Liquor License Commissioners denied a request for a transfer of a license to Dukie Ellington’s LLC, according the Community Law Center’s Booze News blog.
Their unanimous decision came amid opposition to the transfer from the Fells Point Community Organization (FPCO), represented at the meeting by its president Joanne Masopust.
The group would prefer more “traditional retail” over more liquor licenses, Masopust said, according to Booze News lawyer/blogger Rebecca Lundberg Witt.
The case had echoes of the Crossbar controversy from earlier this year, in which Federal Hill residents successfully shot down a beer garden proposal saying a high concentration of bars was causing problems in their neighborhood.
Masopust noted that while the applicant had negotiated a Memorandum of Understanding with another group, the Fells Point Residents’ Association, the FPRA’s position was a weak vote “to not oppose” rather than “to support” the transfer. The FPCO simply voted to “oppose.”
So where were area lawmakers on the issue? City Councilman James B. Kraft had all sides covered on this one.
There were letters on file from him supporting both community groups, which, as Witt points out, was technically “mutually exclusive.”
Liquor License to a Non-existent LLC
Booze News typically takes note when the Liquor Board’s conduct raises issues highlighted in a highly critical audit conducted by the state and released in March.
The decision to grant a license to Sportsman Spot, at 501 S. Lehigh St., raised a red flag for Witt because at the time of the hearing, the applicant for transfer of ownership, Rebecca Lang, had not created a business entity.
“There is no LLC at this point,” Board Chairman Stephan A. Fogleman said. But the panel voted unanimously to approve the transfer.
The audit noted that the commissioners frequently issue licenses without receiving all the required documentation from licensees or applicants,” Witt noted.
“In this case the Board approved a license to be transferred to an LLC that did not exist,” Witt wrote. “The Board Chairman even noted that the LLC had not been created.”