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Strauss asks for liquor license moratorium

April 19, 2001

Strauss asks for liquor license moratorium



By BOB PARTLOW / Staff Writer, Martinsburg


Berkeley County Commission President Howard Strauss Thursday called for a moratorium on the licensing of new bars and clubs that serve alcohol in Berkeley County.

He also called for a mandatory public hearing on any new license applications.

Strauss said he will make the argument for the moratorium or mandatory public hearing to Alcohol Beverage Control Administration Commissioner Tom Keeley when he visits Berkeley County Tuesday.

Only the state could impose such a moratorium or public hearing, officials said.

At the regular commission meeting Thursday, Commissioner Robert Burkhart said he talked Wednesday with Keeley, who told him he will meet with bar and club owners Tuesday afternoon, then with the commission, and take a tour to see where the bars and clubs are located.

The commission said the issue of the clubs along W.Va. 9 and U.S. 11 worries them.

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"I have a grave concern about the number of bars in South Berkeley," said Strauss, who is an advocate for a moratorium or mandatory public hearing.

Burkhart said the possibility of another sports bar opening on W.Va. 9 near Mountaineer Market was the catalyst for the visit. The proposed club has received a construction permit from the Berkeley County Planning Commission, but Keeley could deny an operating license.

Jane Reed, secretary to Keeley, said Keeley's concern about the proposed bar prompted him to plan the visit to the county.

He wants to talk about all issues related to ABCA, including the clubs along U.S. 11 and W.Va. 9, she said.

"He knows that is a big problem there," she said.

Keeley was visiting Morgantown Thursday on the same kind of trip. Underage drinking is a big problem in that area, he said.

Strauss said the proliferation of bars and clubs is dangerous to local residents because drinking patrons may then take to the roads.

"It's a real hazard to travel late at night," he said.

Strauss said it's time the state got serious about the problem.

"I'm going to take a tough stand," he said. "It's time people in Berkeley County have a say."

"People in Berkeley County have had a say because they support them," Burkhart countered.

"It's people coming in from other areas, Virginia and other places, who are supporting them," Strauss said. "We're known as a dumping ground for these undesirable uses."

Keeley will meet with club and bar owners at 2 p.m. Tuesday and will meet with the commissioners at 3 p.m. Both meetings will be held in the commission meeting room in the Berkeley County Courthouse. The meetings will be open to the public, officials said.

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