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15 oppose request to open liquor store in Hagerstown shopping center

February 14, 2008|By DAN DEARTH

HAGERSTOWN -- About 15 people attended a hearing Wednesday to oppose a man's request to open a liquor store in a shopping center at the intersection of Robinwood and John F. Kennedy drives in Hagerstown.

City resident Ronnie Jiang told the Board of License Commissioners for Washington County, also known as the liquor board, that he would like to open RJ Wine and Spirits in two or three months. The 1,500-square-foot store would be open Mondays through Saturdays, he said.

Several people in the audience, many of them Washington County liquor store or tavern owners, said the area doesn't need another liquor store.

Louis Thomas, owner of The Yellow House in Boonsboro, said a new liquor store on Robinwood Drive, which is near Hagerstown Community College and the construction site of Washington County Regional Medical Center, would contribute to traffic problems.

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Others said the liquor store would provide a place for underage HCC students to try to purchase alcohol.

Jiang said his store would provide competition to existing liquor store owners who have established a monopoly. There isn't a liquor store within a mile of Jiang's proposed business, he said.

After the meeting, Jiang said he needed more than a 15-minute hearing to respond to his critics' statements. He questioned the accusations that his store -- if it opens -- would influence traffic on Robinwood Drive.

"If there was a traffic problem, the shopping center wouldn't have been built," he said. "I'm only 1,500 square feet. How can it affect traffic?"

Robert L. Everhart, liquor board chairman, said a decision would be made within 30 days.

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