www.baltimoresun.com/explore/howard/news/ph-ho-cf-wegmans-liquor-0913-20120907,0,1491061.story

baltimoresun.com

Partners for proposed liquor store at Wegmans will not appeal license denial

By Lindsey McPherson, lmcpherson@patuxent.com

3:44 PM EDT, September 7, 2012

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Two partners that wanted to open a liquor store on the second floor of the Wegmans in Columbia have decided not to appeal the decision of the Alcohol Beverage Hearing Board to deny them a liquor license, according to their attorney.

Thomas Meachum, attorney for Christopher O'Donnell, of Rochester, N.Y., and Michael Smith, of Ellicott City, who together make up Columbia Wine Partners LLC, said he filed a memorandum with the board last month informing them his clients would not appeal the decision.

Reach by phone Friday afternoon, Smith declined to comment.

The board, in a unanimous decision July 30, rejected the liquor license application from Columbia Wine Partners, which was seeking to sell beer, wine and hard liquor from about 9,800 square feet of leased space on the second floor of Wegmans, which opened nearly three months ago off Snowden River Parkway.

"It's far, far, far too murky for me," board member Harry Evans said at the time.

O'Donnell, the husband of Wegmans President Colleen Wegman, was to own 90 percent of the proposed liquor tore through IAD LLC, a company registered in Delaware, of which he is the sole member.

The other 10 percent of store was to be owned by Smith, an attorney who started doing labor employment law work for Wegmans when the supermarket chain began moving into the Washington area about a decade ago, he previously told the Howard County Times.

The board's official motion to deny the license was based on the determination that the store was "not necessary for the accommodation of the public."

But members of the five-member board had several other concerns about the store, including a state law banning liquor licenses from being issued "in conjunction with or on the premise of" chain stores, the store's impact on nearby liquor stores and the inexperience of Smith, who was to be the public face of the store.

Had Columbia Wine Partners appealed, the case would have gone to the Liquor Board, which is the County Council sitting on matters involving liquor licenses.

The space on the second floor of Wegmans, located next to the seating area for the store's first-floor market cafe, remains empty. Wegmans spokeswoman Jo Natale said the company has not decided what to do with the space, nor does it have a timeline for making that decision.

Opposition attorneys Thomas Beach, who represented the Perfect Pour in Elkridge, and Steve Wise, who represented The Kings Contrivance Liquor and Smoke Shop in Columbia and Glenwood Wine & Spirits, could not immediately be reached for comment.