The Harford County Liquor Control Board denied a new liquor license Wednesday because there is "no need" for the business in the area, even though the space where the new store sought to open was once a liquor store.
A hearing was held at last week's meeting for Del Plaza Wine and Spirits, which was applying for a liquor license at 804 Conowingo Road in Bel Air. Before it became a hair studio, which has since closed, the site in the shopping center was a liquor store.
Liquor board members postponed their decision until this Wednesday's meeting, when they voted 4-1 to deny the liquor license; Vernon L. Gauss voted against the motion to deny the license.
Sandi L. Tunney made the motion to deny the liquor license, arguing there is no need for a liquor store in that area. Chairman Donald St. C. Hess agreed, adding they cannot have a liquor store on every corner to accommodate a few people.
As the only vote against the motion to deny, Gauss said it was not the liquor board's job to protect businesses, even if there is no need for added stores and that he was "somewhat opposed" to the motion.
He continued that even though there didn't seem to be a need for a liquor store, that wasn't sufficient grounds to deny a license.
Possible citations for bartenders
There were six show cause hearings scheduled before the board, including one where an employee acknowledged she wasn't supposed to accept a vertical ID, but did anyway.
Commissioners fined Magoo's Smokehouse in Fallston $500 for the sale of alcohol to a minor. During Chief Inspector Charles Robbins Jr.'s report, Robbins said when the minor entered Magoo's and asked for a beer, the bartender said that "Donnie" said not to accept vertical IDs, but would "let it slide."
Licensee Donald Marino said he was "quite shocked" at what had occurred and fired the bartender immediately.
He added that he thought the liquor board should look into consequences for bartenders and employees who willfully ignore the rules, prompting a discussion among board members about ramifications for bartenders.
Commissioner Thomas L. Fidler Jr. pointed out that Maryland as a state holds the licensee responsible in those situations. Hess added that handling employees is out of their range.
Robbins said they could discuss with local police agencies having deputies cite employees on-site when employees serve alcohol to minors.
Five businesses fined
One of the other five show cause hearings was rescheduled after none of the business' licensees appeared for the hearing and did not request excused absences.
None of the three licensees for Scotto's Cafe in Bel Air, Bruno Scotto-DiCarlo, Marizio Illiano or Diego Colomonaco, attended their hearing, which was for allegedly violating the board rule against selling or furnishing an alcoholic beverage to a minor.
The board rescheduled that hearing to the Sept. 5 meeting, but not without levying a $250 fine on each licensee for missing the meeting without being excused.
Hearings for Joppa Amoco, Santini's in Joppa and P & G Mini Mart in Aberdeen were all held as a result of a June compliance test. All three businesses were found guilty of selling or furnishing alcohol to a minor.
The Joppa Amoco was fined $250 for the violation, with all commissioners except Hess agreeing with the motion. The smaller fine was because of the store's commitment to getting false IDs, according to Fidler, who proposed it.
During his statement, Robbins told commissioners the Joppa Amoco has confiscated more than 20 false identification documents since 2011.