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Tavern owner appeals decision of liquor board

December 27, 2001

Tavern owner appeals decision of liquor board



By DAN KULIN
dank@herald-mail.com


A Washington County Circuit judge will allow the Mulberry Street Tavern in downtown Hagerstown to remain open pending the outcome of the owner's appeal of a liquor board ruling.

The liquor board ruled Wednesday that the tavern was responsible for late-night raucous behavior that disturbed neighbors and ordered the bar closed for 20 days starting today.

The board also fined the tavern owner $2,500 and put the tavern at 6 N. Mulberry St. on probation for one-year.

Tavern owner Dennis Hollinger on Thursday appealed the liquor board's decision to the Circuit Court and requested the order to close be postponed, his attorney Roger Schlossberg said.

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Judge Kennedy Boone granted Hollinger's request, Schlossberg said.

"This is a death penalty for a bar. A three-week suspension during the holiday season," Schlossberg said about the board's decision.

"Everything is on hold until the appeal is concluded .... that could take several months," said Schlossberg, who said he spoke on behalf of Hollinger.

Schlossberg said the liquor board "was arbitrary and capricious," and the tavern has "never had an adverse finding against it."

Schlossberg said he questioned the liquor board's handling of the case. He would not be more specific, but said additional information will be presented to the court.

The liquor board, formally known as the Washington County Board of License Commissioners, charged the tavern with disrupting the peace and safety of the community after receiving numerous complaints from police and neighbors, who said tavern patrons were disrupting the neighborhood when they left the bar.

During an Oct. 24 board hearing, City Police Lt. Carvel Wright testified that police went to the tavern 317 times between Oct. 7, 2000, and Oct. 17, 2001, including 72 times for disturbance calls.

Some wanted the board to revoke the tavern's liquor license.

Board Chairman Donald L. Mellott said the liquor board had taken into consideration Hollinger's efforts to address neighbors' complaints.

Between board hearings on the tavern in October and November, Hollinger met with some neighbors, started closing the bar an hour earlier, stopped having a disc jockey on Thursday nights and had his employees remind bar patrons that when they left the bar that they should do so quietly and quickly.

Mellott said the board also took into consideration that for years there were no formal complaints about the tavern.

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