Liquor Legislation Watch: Councilman Reisinger and Councilman Stokes

CPHA has been covering where all members of the Land Use and Transportation Committee stand on Alcohol Outlet Density Reduction (AODR), a portion of the proposed zoning re-write which intends to reduce the density of packaged goods stores and ensure taverns stop acting like sham taverns in Baltimore. To read more about this legislation and why we need City Council to support the health of their constituency over individual liquor proprietors read here.

In the last two weeks we caught up with Councilman Reisinger and Councilman Stokes to see where they stand on this portion of the zoning legislation.

Edward Reisinger (Chair) – Edward.Reisinger@baltimorecity.gov: CPHA has confirmed with Councilman Reisinger that he has severed his ties to a tavern in Morrell Park and will vote on amendments specific to alcohol outlet density reduction. As Chair of the Land Use and Transportation Committee, the Councilman has also informed CPHA that,given the scope and scale of the zoning re-write, he doesn’t expect a final vote from the Land Use and Transportation Committee before spring of 2014. Thereafter, the bill will be reviewed by the entire City Council and then the Mayor. The only current opportunity for public testimony related to liquor will be on October 3rd, 6:30pm, at the Towanda Community Center in Park Heights. CPHA is encouraging all Citizens to come out and tell our City Council to vote to reduce the number of liquor outlets in our communities.

So where does Councilman Reisinger currently stand on the AODR portion of the legislation?

Councilman Reisinger’s District (District 10) is largely unaffected by AODR legislation as the majority of non-conforming packaged good stores and sham taverns are located in lower-income and African-American sections of the City.

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In fact, there are only three non-conforming packaged goods stores in his entire District (compare that with Councilman Pete Welch, District 9, who has 25 or Councilman Carl Stokes, District 12, who has 18). While the Councilman has 44 taverns in his district, the majority of them already function as real taverns and the taverns that don’t will not be asked to close but simply to dedicate at least 50 percent of their sales and 50 percent of their space to on-site consumption.

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CPHA is pleased to report that Councilman Reisenger is currently in full support of the part of AODR legislation that will ensure taverns start acting like taverns. In fact,  he has told CPHA that he may propose an amendment that will increase the tavern “50/50” requirement and hold taverns to a higher standard. He also does not currently have any objection to the portion of the legislation that will stop packaged goods stores from opening within 300 feet of another packaged goods store–given we already have so many packaged goods stores this city.

However, while his district is largely unaffected, the Councilman remains undecided on the portion of the legislation that will ask non-conforming packaged goods stores on residential streets to move to a commercial street or stop selling liquor. Councilman Reisenger has said he is open to continued conversation. We hope, as the conversation continues, he will see what this saturation of liquor stores means for his neighbors in east and west Baltimore and support AODR legislation in its entirety.

So what about Councilman Carl Stokes?

Carl Stokes Carl.Stokes@baltimorecity.gov: Councilman Carl Stokes is not on the Land Use and Transportation Committee but given the extreme density of packaged goods stores and sham taverns in his District ( District 12) we would expect him to be vocally supportive of this portion of the legislation. With 18 packaged goods stores operating on residential streets (nearly half of them in the community of Broadway East a lone) the Councilman is second only to Councilman Pete Welch (District 9) in non conforming packaged goods stores. Not surprisingly, most of these stores fall in the neighborhoods with some of the lowest property values in his District and the entire City.

district12JPEGEarly last week, Councilman Stokes told CPHA that he needed 30 days to look over the AODR legislation in his District. However, he did confirm, that, like Councilman Branch, he will also support the current AODR legislation, without amendment and without suggesting the City would or should be in the business of buying liquor licenses, as long as he knows his constituency is supportive. We look forward to reporting an update from Councilman Stokes on our website just before the October 3rd hearing.

In the meantime, please share your concerns with the councilmen:

District 10: Edward Reisinger, Council Vice-President

410-396-4822
410-545-7353 (fax)
Room 511, City Hall
Edward.Reisinger@baltimorecity.gov

District 12: Carl Stokes

410-396-4811
410-396-1594 (fax)
Room 523, City Hall
Carl.Stokes@baltimorecity.gov

 

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Michael Snidal

Michael Snidal

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