Bowling

The Campus Hills neighborhood is fighting an application by AMF Towson Lanes to get a liquor license. (Brian Krista, Patuxent Publishing / January 31, 2012)

The Campus Hills Community Association has dropped its opposition to AMF Towson Lanes' application for a liquor license, clearing the way for a license with several stipulations to be approved Monday morning.

Campus Hills Community Association board member Andrea Otis said in an email to the Towson Times that decision to withdraw its opposition did not come easily, but the board is confident that the increased responsibility that comes with a liquor license with benefit the community.

"Through our negotiations with AMF, we established concessions that will be written into the license, specifically limiting the hours they will be able to serve alcohol and mandating improvements designed to deter parking lot loitering, which are the community's biggest concerns," Otis said in the email.

The license will be ruled on by the liquor board at 11 a.m. Monday.

Doug Meister, an attorney for Towson Lanes, said Sunday that the process opened the bowling alley management's eyes to some of the community concerns, but that lines of communication would remain open after the license is granted.

"What we're going to really try and do is stay in touch," Meister said. "(General Manager) Tom (Lawson) is absolutely happy that he can get the chance to stop things before they get to be problems, because that's his center and he wants to make it a good one."

A decision on the license was postponed last month to allow for the sides to agree to stipulations for the license. Some are cosmetic, such as commitments to shovel snow on the alley's sidewalks and twice daily garbage sweeps in the parking lot.

Others, such as increased signage and security cameras aimed at the parking lot, aim to assuage community concerns about loud crowds congregating outside.

Many of the stipulations were meted out at a Nov. 8 meeting hosted by Councilman David Marks. There, the bowling alley's management agreed to several cosmetic and security improvements, though they still needed approval from the corporate office to reduce hours of service.

AMF management ultimately agreed to stop selling alcohol at midnight on Friday and Saturday and 11 p.m. Sunday-Thursday.

But even that option was initially rejected by the Campus Hills board, a portion of which was holding out for reduced daytime hours during the week on account of their safety concerns for the children at Cromwell Valley Elementary.

Otis said "extensive discussions and two rounds of voting" were necessary to sway those who wanted the 11 a.m. opening to be changed, but she indicated AMF was standing firm on the point.

Without an agreement, Otis said, the license was likely to be approved with no safeguards for the community.

"Although we know many neighbors may not be satisfied with our decision, we believe it will be a positive change for everyone," Otis said.

"Life is sometimes about picking the best of several undesirable choices, and I think that's what the community association did," Marks said. "The last thing they wanted was a liquor license with no restrictions, as well as a continuation of the problems that have gone on for years at the bowling alley."

Both Otis and Marks believe the license will bring the bowling alley added scrutiny from the county. The community initially feared that a liquor license would compound existing issues at the alley, such as loud late-night crowds in the parking lot.

The bowling alley's management said the first they heard of these issues was when the community association opposed the liquor license, but have made several good-faith gestures in order to alleviate the community's concern.