La Raza loses appeal, next step unclear

Written by on April 3, 2013 in Neighborhood News - No comments

The Circuit Court of Baltimore City has affirmed the Board of Liquor License Commissioners’ decision to revoke La Raza Cantina’s liquor license.

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“A veritable cascade of evidence exists to support the decision,” said Circuit Court Judge Audrey Carrion, who heard the appeal on Friday, March 29.

The bar, located at 3137 Eastern Ave. (the corner of Eastern and East Ave.) in Highlandtown, lost its license in December after 137 neighbors signed a petition asking that its license be taken away because they believed the bar “posed a threat to the peace and safety of [their] neighborhood,” but the bar appealed the board’s decision and was allowed by law to remain open for business in the interim.

Attorney Melvin Kodenski represented Jennifer Mejia, owner of La Raza Cantina; Alice Pinderhughes represented the Board of Liquor License Commissioners. Attorney Brooke Lierman, of Brown, Goldstein & Levy, attended the appeal and submitted a memorandum of law in the support of the Liquor Board’s decision on behalf of the Highlandtown Community Association.

Mejia’s reaction to the judge’s decision was frustration.

“I don’t care,” she said. “I’m tired of dealing with the racist community of Baltimore.”

The bar is closed but can choose to appeal to the Court of Special Appeals.

When contacted on Monday, Jane Schroeder, deputy executive secretary for the Liquor Board, did not know whether La Raza was seeking an appeal.

“While we have had appeals go the Court of Special Appeals, it is not something that happens on a regular basis,” Schroeder said.

Kodenski, when asked whether La Raza Cantina was considering another appeal, said: “I’m making her aware of her options.”

Kevin Bernhard, president of the Highlandtown Community Association, was pleased with the judge’s decision.

“Not only is this a win for the residents surrounding La Raza Cantina, but it is also a win for all citizens in Baltimore City. I hope that this result empowers other residents that may be living near a nuisance bar to take action, and wakes up the owners of nuisance bars, so they will change their bar from being a problem to a community asset,” he said.

by Danielle Sweeney

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