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September 26, 2012

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MINUTES OF THE BOARD OF LICENSE COMMISSIONERS
OF CECIL COUNTY

 

The Board of License Commissioners of Cecil County met in a regular session at the County Administrative Building, Conference Room, 200 Chesapeake Boulevard, Elk Room, Elkton, MD on Wednesday, September 26, 2012 at 9:15 A.M.

PRESENT:
        Tim Snelling, Chairman
                        Carrie L. Taylor, Commissioner
                        John M. Eller, Commissioner
                        H. Norman Wilson, Jr., Esquire
                        Earl R. Bradford, Chief Alcohol Beverage Inspector
                        Robin Coyle, Administrative Assistant

CHANGE OF OFFICERS – B-57Cornelius F. Shanahan, Jr., President; Joseph A. Gargiulo, Vice President, Frank J. Gargiulo, Treasurer; Beauchamp Liquors, Inc., T/A Cherry Hill Liquors, 42 Beauchamp Road, Elkton, MD 21921 – Did not appear

UPGRADE OF SPACE – B-147Yan Qing Lin; Ruth Ann Maxey; Sushi House, LLC, T/A Johnny's Sushi House, 5412 Pulaski Highway, Perryville, MD 21903

Karl Fockler and Ruth Ann Maxey appeared before the Board; Mr. Fockler reminded the Board of the request to expand the establishment; he stated the landlord has leased that space and they are now requesting to add that additional space to the opposite side of the establishment.  Commissioner Eller made a motion to approve the expansion with issuing of the proper permits; Commissioner Taylor seconded that motion and the Board then voted unanimously to approve.

A-34 - A. Chad Johnston, Member; Karnail Singh, Member; USA Liquors, LLC T/A Johnston's Discount Liquors, 1170 Rock Springs Road, Rising Sun, MD 21911 – Did not appear

VIOLATIONS

B-112 -Natalie A. Horton, T/A Joe's Grog House, 26 South Main Street, Port Deposit, MD 21904
(Official transcript available upon request with proper payment of fees)

Natalie Horton appeared before the Board with attorney, Michael Smigiel; the licensee and all witnesses were duly sworn by the Clerk.  Mr. Smigiel requested all witnesses be sequestered; he also stated he would like Chairman Snelling to recuse himself, as he is cited in Chief Bradford's report dated June 15, 2012.  Mr. Wilson advised Chairman Snelling he did not feel it necessary for him to recuse himself, he did however, relinquish his duties as Chairman for the hearing.

Mr. Wilson called Chief Bradford to the stand.  Chief Bradford summarized his reports from June 9, June 15 and July 7, 2012.  He reported several incidents where he witnessed patrons of Joe's vomiting, spiting and urinating at residences nearby, while yelling, hooting and hollering to others gathered out in front of the establishment; he recalled one incident where a female patron threw a chair through the front window.  He cited occasions where patrons were carried out or needed help leaving the establishment.  Chief Bradford stated he spoke with Mr. Killian on several occasions regarding the crowd outside, the noise, etc.  Mr. Killian stated they can't control the customers on the sidewalk. 

Mr. Wilson submitted the Liquor Board letter dated July 10, 2012 addressed to Ms. Horton as LB Exhibit #1 and also the Liquor Board letter dated July 23, 2012 addressed to Mr. Smigiel as LB Exhibit #2. 

Mr. Smigiel asked Chief Bradford if he took readings; Chief Bradford stated no.  Mr. Smigiel then asked what he went by to determine the establishment was disturbing the peace and tranquility of the neighborhood; Chief Bradford stated 25 years of experience.  Mr. Smigiel stated the State of Maryland does not have Dram Shop laws so how are the owners responsible once the patrons leave their establishment.  Mr. Smigiel asked if the neighbors had 'No Trespassing' signs posted; Chief Bradford stated none that he has seen. 

Mr. Wilson called Officer Chase Armington to the stand; Officer Armington stated his last day of work for Port Deposit Police Department – he later stated he worked for the department from February 22, 2010 through July 2, 2012.  Officer Armington reviewed several reports including the following reports:

 

5/27/2012            Port Deposit Police Dept. Report #2012397

5/27/2012            Port Deposit Police Dept. Report  #2012398

5/27/2012            Port Deposit Police Dept. Report #2012399

5/28/2012            Port Deposit Police Dept. Report #2012402

5/27/2012            Port Deposit Police Dept. Report #2012400       (Berzick report)

6/2/2012              Port Deposit Police Dept. Report #2012401       (Zinner report)

5/13/2012            Port Deposit Police Dept. Report #2012332       (Lunsford report)

 

He stated he has observed several patrons urinating or vomiting in the area, ie. alleyways, driveways, yelling to other patrons; he stated he had several arrests including Robert Berzick III and Steven Joseph Zinner, Jr.  Mr. Smigiel asked there were other bars open, he stated yes.  He stated there are eight total establishments in Port Deposit and Joe's is the largest.

Mr. Wilson called Robert John Berzick III to the stand; Mr. Wilson asked Mr. Berzick if he had occasion to be in Port Deposit on May 27, 2012; Mr. Berzick stated he was, he arrived at Joe's around 10:00 or so.  Mr. Wilson asked if had any drinks prior to arriving at Joe's; he stated he had about two beers at his niece's boyfriend's house before going to Joe's.  Mr. Wilson asked when he left Joe's; Mr. Berzick stated it was a little before closing.  Mr. Wilson asked what he drank at Joe's and how many; Mr. Berzick stated he drank American Honey Wild Turkey and he was guessing he had four or five of them.  Mr. Wilson asked Mr. Berzick when you left Joe's where did you go?  Mr. Berzick stated 'to my car.'  Mr. Wilson asked if he drove; Mr. Berzick stated yes.  Mr. Wilson asked if he took a breathalyzer when he was stopped and what were those results; Mr. Berzick stated he did and it was .16, Mr. Wilson stated the report states .15, is that correct?  Mr. Berzick stated yes.

Mr. Smigiel asked Mr. Berzick if he had anything to drink anywhere else besides the beer before going to Joe's?  Mr. Berzick stated no.  Mr. Smigiel asked if Mr. Berzick felt intoxicated; Mr. Berzick stated yes.  Mr. Smigiel then asked when he felt that he was intoxicated; Mr. Berzick stated when he was walking to his car.  Mr. Smigiel asked if Mr. Berzick was an alcoholic; Mr. Berzick stated no.  Mr. Smigiel asked if Mr. Berzick knew when to stop; Mr. Berzick stated "I should, yes."  Mr. Smigiel asked about the medications Mr. Berzick takes; Mr. Berzick stated he has a former drug addiction.  Mr. Smigiel asked what could happen if he mixes these drugs with alcohol; Mr. Berzick stated blackouts.  Mr. Smigiel asked if he tells people he is on these medications; Mr. Berzick stated no.  Mr. Smigiel asked the last time he had taken these meds prior to going to Joe's Grog House; Mr. Berzick said he has no recollection.  Mr. Smigiel asked if he still drinks alcohol; Mr. Berzick stated no.  Mr. Smigiel asked if he was drug free; Mr. Berzick stated yes, it was hard.  Mr. Smigiel congratulated Mr. Berzick on being drug free.

Mr. Wilson called Steven Joseph Zinner, Jr. to the stand.  Mr. Wilson asked Mr. Zinner if he had occasion to be in Port Deposit at Joe's Grog House on June 2, 2012; Mr. Zinner stated he was working that evening.  Mr. Wilson asked what his duties were at Joe's; Mr. Zinner stated he worked in the kitchen.  Mr. Wilson asked about the events that occurred that evening; Mr. Zinner stated he got off work and had a couple of drinks.  Mr. Wilson asked about his arrest by Officer Armington; Mr. Zinner said he was charged with DUI, DWI, not showing a registration.  Mr. Wilson asked how he paid for his drinks; Mr. Zinner stated he had about $10 in his wallet, he did not pay, Joe's allows employees to run a tab and they post a bill on the corkboard and take that amount out of your paycheck.  Mr. Wilson asked Mr. Zinner if he drank before going to work; Mr. Zinner stated no.  Mr. Wilson asked how much he drank that evening; Mr. Zinner stated he drank until he got into the car and got into trouble and added it's hard for him to remember, he has no recollection after he left the bar.  Mr. Wilson asked about the events after he left the bar; Mr. Zinner said again he had no recollection after he left the bar; he woke up in the morning at Harford Memorial and they told him they were treating him for alcohol poisoning.  Mr. Wilson asked how long he had to stay in the hospital; Mr. Zinner said until his blood alcohol level was at a safe level.  Mr. Wilson asked what his BAC was; Mr. Zinner stated he was told it was .22 by drawn blood.  Mr. Wilson asked if he had gone anywhere else to drink; Mr. Zinner said no other places.  Mr. Wilson asked if he was still working at Joe's; Mr. Zinner stated no.  Mr. Wilson asked if he has a drug problem; Mr. Zinner stated no; no AA, but he occasionally goes to NA for support, he smokes marijuana, no heroin use.  Chairman Snelling asked how old he was; Mr. Zinner stated he is 26.  Mr. Smigiel asked if recalls doing anything in the bar to indicate that he was intoxicated; Mr. Zinner stated he was loud and rowdy, people around him knew he was drunk, but he didn't do anything outrageously crazy.

Mr. Wilson called Geri Lynn Longacre to the stand.  Mr. Wilson asked about events occurring at Joe's; Mrs. Longacre spoke of several events, stating when the crowd outside grows, the volume of the crowd grows.  She recalled on event where three young men were coming from the alley from D'Lorenzo's, one vomited; another time three young ladies came out of JGH; Mr. Wilson asked if they were noisy; she stated yes, patrons come out of the establishment staggering.  Mr. Wilson asked Mrs. Longacre to describe the neighborhood; she stated it's mixed apartments above businesses.  Mr. Wilson asked Mrs. Longacre if she feels the establishment disturbs her peace and tranquility; she stated yes.  She continued her daughter and her new baby stayed with them a while, the baby had issues sleeping because of the noise.  Mr. Smigiel asked Mrs. Longacre about appearing before the Board to object to the opening; Mrs. Longacre said she was concerned about them getting the proper permits, etc.  She stated she and her husband have taken guests there to eat numerous times.  Mr. Smigiel asked if she had a conversation with Chief Bradford about a 'No Trespassing' sign; she said they are not very pleasing and she has concerns about a sign in front of the Apothecary Shop, she's hoping it doesn't come to that.  Mr. Smigiel asked how Mrs. Longacre got Mr. Bradford's number; she stated Chief Bradford gave it to her.  Mr. Smigiel asked if Mrs. Longacre texted him often; she stated no.  Mr. Smigiel asked if she knows Ms. Horton and Mr. Killian; she stated Ms. Horton was at one time their tenant.  Mr. Smigiel asked if Mrs. Longacre had gone over and talked with the owners; Mrs. Longacre stated in the past her husband had talked with them.

Mr. Smigiel called Ms. Horton to take the stand; Ms. Horton stated she is the owner of the business and holds the liquor license.  Mr. Smigiel asked about the noise; Ms. Horton said it's contained inside.  Mr. Smigiel asked if a good portion of their business eat and bring their families; she stated yes.  Mr. Smigiel asked if they are in compliance with the law; Ms. Horton stated yes.  Mr. Smigiel asked about the compliance checks, if they passed; Ms. Horton stated absolutely yes.  Mr. Smigiel asked if they have any control over the people when they leave, when they leave out the door and the music blasts out and the doors shut; she stated no.  Mr. Smigiel asked what they have done when they've been told someone has vomited outside; Ms. Horton stated they take care of it.  Mr. Smigiel asked Ms. Horton about the Longacre's foundation; she stated they sent someone over to fix it, the Longacre's probably don't even know that happened.  Mr. Wilson asked if they have been cited for serving people under 21; Ms. Horton stated yes; Mr. Wilson asked how many times; Ms. Horton said twice.  Mr. Wilson asked Ms. Horton if they use the documents supplied by the Board; she stated no, they have a composition book behind the podium that they use. 

Mr. Smigiel called John Killian to the stand; Mr. Smigiel asked what his position is with JGH; Mr. Killian stated he runs the business.  Mr. Killian stated they've tried to work with everyone, the police department, Mr. Bradford, but no one can tell me what to do.  Mr. Smigiel asked if anyone came up to him and said this person was served too much; Mr. Killian stated no.  Mr. Smigiel asked if Mr. Killian saw people doing things they shouldn't; Mr. Killian stated yes.  Mr. Wilson asked if he was working the night of the event with Mr. Zinner; Mr. Killian stated yes.  Mr. Wilson asked if he saw Mr. Zinner drinking the shots of American Honey Wild Turkey; Mr. Killian stated there were a lot of people in there. 

Public Comments:Jeff Spangler stated he is an 11 year resident of Port Deposit; he stated he is asking the Board to suspend the liquor license for not less than 30 days because of the noise and the events that have occurred at the establishment.

Geraldine Raska stated she lives in the area and is very concerned with the noise and the events occurring at the establishment.

Glenn Longacre – Mr. Smigiel objected to having Mr. Longacre comment as he received a subpoena and was sequestered with the witnesses and he stated at that time he allowed him to come into the room with his wife while she testified and stated he had no problem with that if he did not testify or make a public comment.

John Leeds stated there is a problem with the noise and they lack proper crowd control.  It's very difficult for them to control the parking lot area.

Judy Leonard stated she has nothing different to contribute, she is just asking the Board to take action to relieve the community.

List of Exhibits:

 

LB Exhibit #1       7/10/2012          Letter to Ms. Horton

LB Exhibit #2       7/23/2012          Letter from Mr. Smigiel

LB Exhibit #3       8/31/2012          Letter from Mr. Smigiel

LB Exhibit #4       8/28/2012          Letter from Mr. Wilson to Smigiel

LB Exhibit #5       5/27/2012          Port Deposit Police Dept. Report    #2012397

LB Exhibit #6       5/27/2012          Port Deposit Police Dept. Report     #2012398

LB Exhibit #7       5/27/2012          Port Deposit Police Dept. Report    #2012399

LB Exhibit #8       5/28/2012          Port Deposit Police Dept. Report    #2012402

LB Exhibit #9       5/27/2012          Port Deposit Police Dept. Report    #2012400         (Berzick report)

LB Exhibit #10    6/2/2012            Port Deposit Police Dept. Report    #2012401         (Zinner report)

LB Exhibit #11    5/13/2012          Port Deposit Police Dept. Report    #2012332         (Lunsford report)

LB Exhibit #12    6/9/2012            Chief Bradford's Report

LB Exhibit #13    6/15/2012          Chief Bradford's Report

LB Exhibit #14    7/7/2012            Chief Bradford's Report

 

With no further testimony, Chairman Snelling stated the licensee would receive their decision by certified mail.

BOARD DECISION:

By unanimous vote:

1.                  Relating to Article 2B Section 12-108, and Local Rules and Regulations F.6 –while believing that there was some evidence suggesting that you or your agents provided alcoholic beverages to persons who were impaired, the Board decided not to impose a finding of guilty.

2.                  Relating to Local Rules and Regulations F.7, Prohibited Practices the Board felt that there was an abundant amount of testimony by numerous witnesses to find that the "peace, safety, and tranquility of the neighborhood " had been disturbed; the Board combined the charges for those incidents occurring in June of 2012 to one violation and based upon the evidence presented the Board finds that you are guilty and does impose a fine of $1,000.00 plus the cost of the proceedings of $250.00; the Board will credit the amount of $250.00 previously paid, as the Board agreed to waive the postponement fee relating to the July 25, 2012 hearing.

3.                  Relating to Local Rules and Regulations F.7, Prohibited Practices and G1L, Revocation and Suspension of license, the incident occurring in July of 2012 the Board felt that there was sufficient amount of testimony to find that the "peace, safety, and tranquility of the neighborhood" had been disturbed, and the licensee or agent or employee has permitted continuous disturbances or disorders to occur on or about the licensed premises, and based upon the evidence presented the Board finds that you are guilty and does impose a fine of $1,000.00.

4.                  The total amount due is $2,000.00 which must be paid on or before thirty days from date.

 

 

General Business

·                     Approve Minutes

The minutes from the August 29, 2012 meeting were approved.

·                     Catering Events

·                     Specials

Old Business

New Business

 

 

With no further business to discuss, the meeting was adjourned.

BY:

                                                                                               

Tim Snelling, Chairman

 

ATTEST:

                                                                                               

Robin S. Coyle, Administrative Assistant