In an unusual move, the Baltimore City Board of Liquor License Commissioners ordered the protest of transfer of a liquor license from 105 S. Conkling St. to 35 N. Potomac St. to be reheard, or re-presented.
Two of the three commissioners who would have been making the decision were recently appointed, and had not heard the case, which in May went before the prior board.
The initial protest of transfer occurred during a nearly four-hour hearing on May 15, when more than 20 residents of the Patterson Park neighborhood protested the transfer of the BD-7 license by Alfredo Vazquez, because they felt it would have a negative impact on their thriving but still transitional neighborhood.
At that time, the Patterson Park Neighborhood Association had submitted a petition signed by 50 residents, outlining their 10 reasons for opposing the transfer.
The decision phase of the hearing was initially scheduled for May 22; however, the board later rescheduled that hearing for June 12, after it realized the board would not be in session on May 22.
That date was later postponed once again, because of a lack of board quorum. Apparently, two of the commissioners were unavailable.
The decision phase was rescheduled for June 26—even though the new chairman, Thomas Ward, and new commissioner, Dana Petersen-Moore, had been appointed.
Last Thursday, the licensee’s counsel, Melvin Kodenski, asserted that the present board did not have the authority to make the decision, and Ward agreed.
“I know it’s a burden,” Moore said to Patrick Lundberg, who coordinated the protest for the PPNA. “But it is my preference to hear the testimony.”
Lundberg told the Guide: “I’m disappointed. We’ve been waiting for months. This started in March,” he said. “And I’ve been asking for the hearing transcript from May for weeks now.”
Lundberg was given a copy of the transcript at the hearing.
Ward said that the previous four-hour hearing testimony would be considered.
“I have read the entire file,” he said.
The case is now slated to be re-heard on July 17.
“Will a decision be made that day?” Lundberg asked Ward.
“I’ll let you know,” the chairman replied.
Lundberg said he hopes to have as many residents as possible attend the hearing and give testimony, but was not sure they could make it, and he doubted that the subsequent hearing would have the emotional weight of the first.
As for the Liquor Board, Lundberg said he was running out of faith but trying to be optimistic.
“There’s been a lack of dependable information from the board for some time now,” he said,
Lundberg added that he applied to be a member of the board’s rewrite committee–a group of licensees, residents, and attorneys who will be rewriting the board’s rules and regulations over the summer. But he has yet to find out if he has been chosen.
The rules rewrite committee was scheduled to begin meeting in late June or early July, but because of the new appointments it is a few weeks behind schedule, said Michelle Bailey-Hedgepeth, the board’s executive secretary.
by Danielle Sweeney