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Council Approves Restaurant / Bar License

The council has approved a sit-down Mexican restaurant / bar proposed for 9505 Baltimore Ave., near the intersection of Indian Road and Route One.

At the last week’s NCPCA meeting members overwhelming adopted a motion asking the city to deny the restaurant / bar license. Some 70+ resedents attended the meeting. Residents were concerned about the late hour operation (until 2:00 am) during the weekend and excessive amount of liquor sales (45% of total sales) at the restaurant. There have also been concerns on the noise and prostitution problems in the residential neighborhood adjacent to the proposed restaurant. Residents frequently complained that gang members and prostitutes chased by the police often enter the neighborhood. They feel extremely uncomfortable for being possible suspects in these incidents.

Defending the council decision, council member Patrick Wojahn said “(the license agreement would ) require a 40% limit on revenue from alcohol sales and receiving an assurance that the restaurant would patrol its parking lot every half an hour after 11 pm.”

The licensing board is expected to approve its license after its hearing on January 26. The restaurant is expected to be open in March this year.

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6 Comments to “Council Approves Restaurant / Bar License”

  1. By Jens Jacobson, January 21, 2010 @ 8:01 pm

    How stupid is it to think that serving beer at a Mexican restaurant is going to cause gang activity and prostitution?? Would you think differently if it was a French restaurant? What a strange place we live in, Mr. Kabir.

  2. By Fazlul Kabir, January 21, 2010 @ 8:10 pm

    Jens

    I don’t think the residents who opposed the decision in the past NCPCA meeting were anyway concerned by the fact that the restaurant was a “Mexican” one, instead of a “French” one, as you mentioned. I think their concerns were more related to the late hours of operation, noise, excessive alcohol consumption in the proximity of a residential neighborhood.

    BTW, like many residents, I like Mexican food too. Thanks for stopping by.

  3. By Patrick, January 21, 2010 @ 9:18 pm

    Fazlul,
    First, to clarify – the Council voted to approve a Property Use Agreement between the City and the restaurant owner. This PUA sets forth the terms of what the City requires for it to be able to operate in the City, and in exchange for agreeing to the PUA, the City agrees to speak in support of the application before the County liquor board. The City does not have the authority to approve liquor licenses.

    You neglected to mention, as I told you in my e-mail to you about this, another reason why we voted in support of the Property Use Agreement – the fact that the restaurant owner has operated another restaurant for the past ten years, with the same hours as what he intends to run in College Park, only seventy feet from a residential neighborhood, without sustaining a single noise complaint. I believe he intends to run a quality business in north College Park, and I’m happy to welcome him.

    Patrick

  4. By Jens Jacobson, January 21, 2010 @ 9:23 pm

    Why do you think serving alcohol will lead to all of these things? The problems in our neighborhood are more likely compounded by vacant buildings, not restuarants. Some of us would love Mexican food with a nice cold beer. It’s unlikely that this desire will cause us to seek out a prostitute and join a gang as a consequence. Such undesireable behavior currently exists despite alcohol. Perhaps, efforts should be placed on the gun store next to the youth center.

  5. By Fazlul Kabir, January 21, 2010 @ 9:50 pm

    Jens,

    First off, the motion to deny the license was adopted by a unanimous vote of 70+ residents who was concerned about the level of alcohol to be served in the restaurant. It wasn’t the concern from a single resident.

    There have been several studies on the relationship between the location of the alcohol outlets and the neighborhood violence. Here is one you may want to look at:

    http://resources.prev.org/documents/AlcoholViolenceGruenewald.pdf

    “Neighborhoods where bars, restaurants and liquor and other stores that sell alcohol are close together suffer more frequent incidences of violence and other alcohol-related problems, according to recent research by the Prevention Research Center and others. The strong connection between alcohol and violence has been clear for a long time – but now we know that this connection also relates to the location of places that sell alcohol.”

  6. By Jens Jacobson, January 22, 2010 @ 3:16 am

    Mr. Kabir,

    I certainly appreciate you commitment to public safety. However, as your quote indicates, “close together” must be considered. The ethos of the article is not to ban the sale of alcohol, but to consider the impact when choosing locations for the sale and use of alcohol. A single Mexican restaurant near a large Spanish speaking population seems perfectly reasonable. Also, please consider the citations noted in the above article:

    References
    1 Gorman. D., Speer. P., Gruenewald, P., and Labouvie, E. (2001) Journal of Studies on Alcohol, 62: 628-636.
    2 Scribner, R. et al. (1995) The risk of assaultive violence and alcohol availability in LA County, American Journal
    of Public Health, 85:335-340.
    3 Gruenewald, P.J. and Remer, L. Changes in outlet densities affect violence rates. In review, Alcoholism: Clinical
    and Experimental Research, 2004.
    4 Alaniz, M., Cartmill, R., and Parker, R. (1998) Immigrants and violence, Hispanic Journal of Behavioral
    Sciences, 20, 155-174.
    5 Stevenson, R., Lind., B. and Weatherburn, D. (1999). The relationship between alcohol sales and assault in New
    South Wales, Australia, Addiction, 94(3):397-410.
    6 Stockwell, T. et al. (1992) Levels of drunkenness of customers leaving licensed premises in Perth, Western
    Australia: a comparison of high and low “risk” premises. British Journal of Addiction, 87: 873-881.
    7 Gorman, et al. (2001).
    8 Freisthler, B., Midanik, L.T. and Gruenewald, P.J. Alcohol outlets and child physical abuse and neglect: Applying
    routine activities theory to the study of child maltreatment. Journal of Studies on Alcohol, 65, 586-592, 2004.
    9 Stockwell, T. and Gruenewald. P. (2001) Controls on Physical Availability of Alcohol, in Heather, N., Peters. T.,
    and Stockwell, T. (eds.), International Handbook of Alcohol Dependence and Problems, John Wiley and Sons, Ltd.

    These references include information from studies conducted in Australia, England, and LA county. To make wide sweeping assumptions based on these studies would be to overlook the actual demographics and current alcohol outlet density in Northern College Park. As to epidemiology of use, abuse, and addiction related to families of Northern College Park, we would need current statistics. The current rates of alcohol abuse and addiction, as it correlates to violence, would also have to be known before any conclusion can be drawn on the impact of a single Mexican Restuarant. Given this complexity, it may be best to gain the opinions of those responsible for zoning and permiting.

    In addition, the 70 person turn out is very impressive, indeed. In my experience, this usually suggests organization before the meeting was held. Such unanimity is rare in a diverse population. This should give all of us reason to wonder what could possibly motivate such a large turn out in order to deny a small resturaunt in a currently vacant building from operating.

    Our community will benefit from good well considered development. Let’s not run the few interested parties out because of ignorance or fear.