Lear’s II, a tavern at 3500 O’Donnell St. in Canton, was denied its request to the Baltimore City Board of Liquor License Commissioners to reconsider its 30-day license suspension last Thursday.
Neighbors and the Canton Community Association had protested the renewal of the watering hole’s liquor license the previous week. The bar’s license was renewed, but it received a 30-day suspension for managerial negligence.
Melvin Kodenski, the bar’s lawyer, asked for a reconsideration for several reasons, including because the licensee had been at the location for a long time without violations; because the licensee did not have counsel at the protest of renewal hearing; and because, he stated in his request, the suspension could cripple the business.
While the reconsideration was denied, the bar’s suspension was modified after Kodenski pointed out that the board erred in assigning a weekends-only suspension.
The bar was originally given a 30-day suspension to be completed on weekends “to give the community some reprieve,” Elizabeth Smith, acting chair of the Liquor Board, stated in the hearing transcript.
At the reconsideration, Kodenski told Smith, per liquor law, that suspensions have to be completed on consecutive days. Smith agreed and changed Lear’s II’s suspension to 30 consecutive days, to begin May 9.
The bar’s license had been suspended because the board found Lear’s II’s management to be “negligent” and contributing to an unsafe environment in the neighborhood.
“We believe in your management you are overselling, causing drunkenness, rowdiness [and] language that creates an unsafe and undesirable environment for residents,” Smith stated in the hearing transcript.
She went on: “We believe your management contributed to patrons publicly urinating on the side of your building” and “that although after receiving complaints in February you personally contacted Baltimore City police about drug dealing, that…only corroborates the statement and testimony from the community that there [was] drug dealing on or about your premises, which cause us concern.”
Smith implored Lear’s II to take the suspension “as a wakeup call.”
Elizabeth Dolin, a Canton resident and lawyer who represented the community at the protest of renewal, said she wishes the board had more latitude in assigning suspensions.
“The Liquor Board should have the ability to be more creative in sentencing,” Dolin said after the reconsideration hearing. “Our issues [with the bar] are weekends.”
Lear’s II’s suspension did not begin May 9. Kodenski filed an appeal with the Circuit Court, and the bar’s suspension has been stayed pending Circuit Court hearing and outcome.
by Danielle Sweeney