With less than a week remaining before a hearing before the county Liquor Board that could give AMF Towson Lanes a liquor license, the Campus Hills community is still collecting signatures and preparing its opposition for the license.
"We're still in the process of collecting petitions," board member Andrea Otis said on Oct. 12. "We're getting a very good response supporting our opposition from neighbors."
Neighbors say they oppose the license because rowdy crowds at the lanes already pose frequent problems. Otis said about a third of residents of the neighborhood had signed a petition and with time running out before the hearing — scheduled for Monday, Oct. 22 — additional efforts to gather support will be limited to the neighbors most affected by the alley.
Since the initial hearing was postponed from early September, an attorney listed on Towson Lanes' liquor license application, Douglas Meister, has reportedly reached out to the community.
Meister said he has requested meetings with the community association, but Otis said the community "didn't see the value" in that, and instead submitted its requests and opposition in writing to the attorney — including the log of 911 calls to the bowling alley.
But Meister — who contends the 911 log doesn't match up with AMF's internal records — said that management at Towson Lanes remains "completely mystified" by the opposition.
He acknowledged that the manager and regional manager for the lanes have not been in their positions for long, but said in the past, neighbors have, "never complained to us about a single thing."
Meister said he does not think the bowling facility causes a problem, but If the license is approved one of the community's main concerns — loud crowds congregating and drinking in the parking lot — could be assuaged.
Currently, as a BYOB establishment, patrons can bring their own drinks in and out of Towson Lanes. Meister said that's something that will change should the facility be licensed.
"I understand they certainly don't want a bar in the neighborhood," Meister said. "We don't either. It'll be lane service. It's a bowling alley, and it's going to stay a bowling alley. It's a family center environment, and it's going to stay that way."
Councilman David Marks, who represents the 5th District, including Towson, said he has "real reservations" about having a liquor license at the facility.
Marks said the alley's owner has already reached out to him, and if the license is approved, he would like a dialogue about how the situation can be improved.
At its September meeting, the Greater Towson Council of Community Associations voted to support Campus Hills in its opposition to the liquor license. On Monday, GTCCA President David Kosak said the group would discuss how that support would manifest itself at GTCCA next meeting, scheduled for Thursday, Oct. 18.
Otis said any community groups or residents who wish to join in their opposition are welcome to send a letter to the liquor board.
The board's hearing on the Towson Lanes request is scheduled for Oct. 22, 2:20 p.m., in Room 104 of the Jefferson Building, 105 W. Chesapeake Ave., Towson.