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Columbia residents conflicted as deli seeks liquor license

Huntington Deli and Market is seeking a liquor license to sell beer and wine. Some in the community oppose the license, most notably the Columbia Association, which owns Huntington Pool located in the background.
Huntington Deli and Market is seeking a liquor license to sell beer and wine. Some in the community oppose the license, most notably the Columbia Association, which owns Huntington Pool located in the background. (By Luke Lavoie)

Huntington Deli and Market in Columbia is seeking a liquor license to sell beer and wine, a request that has given some community members, including the deli's neighbor, the Columbia Association, pause.

Those opposing the deli's application, which is scheduled to be ruled on by the Howard County Alcoholic Beverage Hearing Board on Feb. 10, say they are against it because of the deli's proximity to Huntington Pool, one of many CA-owned pools in Columbia.

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The concern is that making beer and wine available so close to the outdoor pool, a popular destination for families and children of the Village of Kings Contrivance, could have an adverse effect on both the conditions of the area and the youth that frequent the pool.

"We are not so much concerned that the owners are going to sell to underage kids, but that kids going to the pool may have friends of age that could buy the alcohol for them and that bottles would end up in the pool or could cause damage or harm to the kids nearby," said Barbara Seely, chairwoman of the Kings Contrivance Village Board.

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Seely is one of a handful of village board members who opposes the application. She said the board has not taken an official stance on the issue because not all oppose it.

The owner of the deli did not respond to requests for comment.

The board did, however, oppose an identical application by the deli in 2008, Seely said. That decision was supported by a three-month survey taken of nearby residents, Seely said, who largely opposed the application.

She said this time there was not enough time to put together any kind of survey, which also contributed to the board's decision not to take an official stance.

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But while the village board has not taken a stance, the Columbia Association Board of Directors has.

Back in 2008, the CA Board voted to oppose the original license, in part, because of the village board's opposition. Last month, the current board voted to uphold that stance by a vote 9-0, with one abstention.

According to a Jan. 15 memo to the Columbia Association Board, the main concerns in 2008 – in addition to increased alcohol availabiltiy for youth – included the possibility of increased vandalism, litter and broken glass in the parking lot shared by the pool and the deli.

There were also concerns that the sale of alcohol would "exacerbate a rise in crime such as assaults and drug violations" in the neighborhood, according to the memo.

Another point for the opposition was the location of another liquor store in the Kings Contrivance Village Center, located approximately one mile from the pool.

"There didn't seem to be a pressing need, and it is less than two miles from the village center (where there is a liquor store)," Seely said, recalling the 2008 vote.

She added the 2008 board felt there wasn't "a burning need" for another place to sell beer and wine.

Brian Dunn, Columbia Association Board member from Kings Contrivance, was the one abstention. He said he does not oppose the license because of the reputation of the owners of the deli.

"Everyone that works there, they are all very nice," Dunn said. "It is a business decision and the owners of the deli are in their rights to request a license. They have been good stewards in the community and they see this as an opportunity to make a little bit more money than now."

Seely agrees that the deli owners have been responsible community partners. She said the concerns, both in 2008 and now, are not a reflection of the owners.

"The people who own Huntington Deli are wonderful people, they truly are; I don't expect they would knowingly do anything wrong," she said. "We all said we did not expect that they were issue."

The deli and market serves hot and cold sandwiches, including breakfast sandwiches, salads, soups and other lunch items. It also doubles as a convenience store.

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