Rapid population growth in Ellicott City in the last decade is not enough to offset declining beer, wine and spirit sales there, the County Council, sitting as the Liquor Board, was told last night.
There has been a decline in the sale of all alcoholic beverages since 1980, said Walter Dulaney, general manager of Pine Orchard Liquors in the 10200 block of Baltimore National Pike. Mr. Dulaney was arguing against granting a liquor license to essentially the same group that was denied a license 18 months ago to open Your Wine Shoppe Inc. in the Enchanted Forest Shopping Center.
Per-person consumption of hard liquor has fallen off 25 percent since 1980, he said, and beer and wine sales have fallen also. "There is no need for a liquor store at this location," Mr. Dulaney told the board.
Every neighborhood within a two-mile radius of the Enchanted Forest Shopping Center, located in the 10000 block of Baltimore National Pike, is already being served by existing liquor stores, Mr. Dulaney said. "There is absolutely no area not being serviced" by existing stores.
To be granted a license, applicants must prove it is necessary to accommodate the public, that they are "fit and proper persons" to hold a license and that the granting of the license will not unduly disturb the peace and safety of the neighborhood.
Applicants denied a license may reapply after one year.
The arguments made last night by existing liquor store owners are essentially the same ones made 18 months ago when the Liquor Board turned down Your Wine Shoppe's first application, saying it was unnecessary to accommodate the public.
The arguments are so similar in fact, that Thomas M. Meachum, attorney for the protesting liquor store owners, submitted the transcripts of the earlier hearing as a protestants' exhibit in the current case.
In addition, Mr. Meachum filed a memorandum of law with the Liquor Board, protesting the reapplication, saying that in order for the board to approve the license, the applicants "must prove a substantial change in conditions" has occurred since their previous application was denied. They cannot simply argue their case better, he said in the memorandum.
Since the first case, Your Wine Shoppe has hired a new consultant. The consultant used essentially the same findings as Mr. Dulaney on declining per capita consumption of alcoholic beverages, but argued that the population has grown to such an a extent that a new liquor store would not harm existing ones.
Mr. Dulaney contended otherwise. He and other owners of existing liquor stores said their sales have been "flat" for some time.