By now, most of you have received a mailed invitation by Pinehurst Wine Shoppe to their May 23rd meeting, during which they will present their hopes for expansion. The meeting will be held Tuesday, May 23 at 7pm at Church of the Redeemer on 5603 N. Charles Street, and we hope you will attend.
To fully understand what is on the table, some perspective is in order:
The plans being proposed are not allowed under the current zoning code for our neighborhood, unless specifically permitted by vote of City Council.
According to the mailing, the plan being proposed will also require a change in liquor license, from a Class “A”– Off Sale Package Goods License to either a Class “D” or “BD-7” Tavern License, or Class “B” Restaurant License.
Class “D” – Tavern License is a bar license, permitting operation 6 days/week from 6:00 a.m. – 1:00 a.m. No Sunday sales.
Class “BD-7” – Tavern License is a bar license, permitting operation 7 days/week from 6:00 a.m. to 2:00 a.m.
Class “B” – Restaurant License permits operation 7 days/week from 6:00 a.m. to 2:00 a.m.
Once a property is granted any of these licenses, it is highly likely that licensure will be permitted at that address in perpetuity, even if ownership changes. Historically across Baltimore City, it is extremely rare for properties with multiple, documented problems to experience significant penalty or have their licenses fully rescinded.
Once a property is given these zoning and/or liquor permissions, they may make additional changes allowed by those codes without having to consult the impacted neighborhood.
The change being proposed is not substantially different from the expansion plan proposed by Pinehurst Wine Shoppe in 2017, in which the residents of Bellona-Gittings voted 95% in opposition.
By their own admission, PWS is submitting the same plan they put forward in 2019, which was also overwhelmingly opposed by you at the Baltimore Municipal Zoning and Appeals Board (BMZA).
Both times, Bellona-Gittings residents cited maintaining neighborhood identity as a quiet, desirable, residential neighborhood as a main concern, as well as increased traffic, decreased parking, diminished sight lines, increased noise (particularly as relates to the proposed outdoor/live music), crime, trash, negative impacts to the natural environment, and lack of a detailed business plan. The close access of Belvedere Square and many other liquor establishments was also noted.
Bellona-Gittings residents noted that while current owners may make commitments to the neighborhood, future owners are not equally beholden and some expressed concern that any memorandum of understanding between the business and the community was not enforceable per city officials.
Most voices in support of Pinehurst Wine Shoppe’s expansion plans have come from people living outside of our neighborhood. It is very important that the people directly impacted by any changes (namely Bellona-Gittings residents) should be heard.
Please attend the meeting organized by the owners of Pinehurst Wine Shoppe, and/or reach out to us with any comments, questions, or concerns. As the saying goes, the Devil is in the details.
Darlene Townsend, President
The Bellona-Gittings Community Association Board