In support of a local liquor store, the Upper Fell’s Point Improvement Association has forwarded a letter to City Council members, Health Commissioner Oxiris Barbot, and Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake.
The liquor store is one of the non-conforming outlets that would be phased out under proposed zoning changes. Although the Health Department has stated that such stores are bad for public health, the UFPIA disagrees in this case:
“Pratt Liquor and Convenience, located at 1816-1818 E. Pratt St., is a well-managed package goods store and an asset to our Baltimore neighborhood,” reads the letter. “The licensee of Pratt Liquor and Convenience hires local workers to man the door, he sweeps the outside of his business, his prices are competitive, his staff is polite and efficient, and the inside of the store is clean. Many of our neighbors responsibly patronize Pratt Liquor and Convenience, and we know of no complaints under this licensee.”
Gary Schroder of the UFPIA Accountability Committee, said that support for the store has generally been high among the association.
“When we first heard about [the non-conforming liquor store phase out] we thought, ‘How unfair,’” he said. “We understand that they have problems, but there are mechanisms in place that are supposed to deal with them—the Liquor Board, the Police Department.”
Schroder noted that the owner of Pratt Liquor and Convenience has someone on staff to keep people from congregating in front of the store.
“To just blanket him out of business—what’s he supposed to do?” he said.
The letter also notes that the Fell’s Point area was designed as a mixed, walkable community, and eliminating that liquor store would detract from that purpose.
“The fact that some neighborhoods have no sense of community while also having multiple liquor outlets does not apply to us,” the letter reads.
“If you take all the corner stores out of the city, it’s not the city anymore—it might as well be Columbia,” commented Schroder.
The letter is signed by UFPIA President Jeff May. Schroder said that the letter speaks for the UFPIA as a body. Members voted in favor of it at a recent meeting attended by about 40, he said.
“It was a popular decision,” Schroder said. “It was pretty overwhelming, too.”
by Erik Zygmont