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Residents Question If Mandatory Liquor License Mediation is a Good Idea in Baltimore

Saturday, February, 24, 2018

A bill introduced in the Maryland House and Senate would give the Baltimore City Liquor Board the authority to require mediation when community members and liquor license applicants are involve in a dispute.  The liquor board spearheaded the introduction of the bill.


According to those familiar with the situation, mediation can be viewed as a helpful tool and should be encouraged.  However, some believe requiring mandatory mediation could harm communities, as well as the health of the city.


At the moment, all liquor licenses in Maryland are renewed on a yearly basis, and anyone living near an applicant has the right to protest the renewal by submitting a petition.  To date, the local board holds a hearing in response to the petition to determine if denial of a liquor license is warranted.


Those in disagreement with the bill believe it is the board’s job to regulate licenses, not the community’s, and it should be the board looking into complaints about applicants.  By creating a mandatory mediation system, the board is allegedly shirking its responsibility, according to critics.


There is also some concern that mediation could create “logistical nightmares”.  There is also confusion about who would participate in the mediation on behalf of the community.  In many cases, dozens of people are in protest to the renewal of a liquor license and there would likely be confusion about who brings the official action to mediate and then who participates in the mediation session.


Critics of the bill also believe it would make the liquor board obsolete, since its primary responsibility is determining who gets a license and who is authorized to have that license renewed.