Kathleen Henderson's house in Oakenshawe is two blocks from the Stadium Lounge bar and package goods store on Greenmount Avenue, seemingly far enough away to be out of sight and out of mind.
But it's not.
Henderson said some Stadium Lounge patrons, often already drunk, are buying pint and-airline-sized bottles of liquor at the Waverly bar and package goods store, 3351 Greenmount Ave., and drinking behind her house in the 300 block of Birkwood Place.
The evidence, Henderson and her neighbors said, is empty bottles, urine and even feces they see or smell in their yards and alleys, as well as fights.
"It's ongoing," said Henderson, a homemaker who has lived there for six years. "I hear the bottles crash in the middle of the night."
Henderson was among a dozen Oakenshawe residents who descended on City Hall -- with City Councilwoman Mary Pat Clarke and Del. Mary Washington -- and urged the Baltimore City Liquor Board April 28 not to renew Stadium Lounge's liquor license.
The board didn't go that far, and chairman Stephan Fogleman told the Messenger if it had come to a vote, the board would have been hard-pressed to find legally that Stadium Lounge patrons were the ones drinking in Oakenshawe's alleys.
But Fogleman brokered a deal -- unprecedented in scope, he said -- in which bar owner Domingo Kim agreed to:
* Hire someone to clean up empty bottles in a two-block area around the bar.
* Stop selling the small bottles of liquor known as singles, in which he admitted he has invested thousands of dollars.
* Meet regularly with affected community associations or with an umbrella group or a task force representing them.
"It's difficut for us to hold the licensee personally responsible if someone two blocks away throws their bottles in the backyard," Fogleman said. "We think this is the best solution that could be worked out for both sides."
"Success," said Oakenshawe Improvement Association co-president Mark Counselman, who represented residents at the liquor board hearing and presented the board with a petition signed by 80 residents of Oakenshawe, Guilford, Charles Village and Abell.
Counselman said he was satisfied with the deal, "for the time being," and Washington called it "good precedent."
Earlier negotiations with Kim were unsuccessful, Counselman said.
Testifying with 'props'
Some of the residents testified at the hearing, including Henderson and her neighbor, Angela Smith.
"I have a prop, actually," Smith told the board, showing an empty 35-milliliter bottle of Richard's Wild Irish Rose that she said she picked up behind her house.
"This is not Mark Counselman against liquor. This is the thought of the community," Counselman testified.
Clarke testified that Stadium Lounge is the only bar in the immediate area she knows of that does carryout, and that she believes problems in the neighborhood are directly related to the bar.
Northern District police officer Doug Gibson, a community liaison, testified, "We've seen a lot of patrons going out into the street extremely intoxicated. They tend to
hang around the community."
Gibson said on occasion he has been stationed outside the bar.
"I've barely had to leave," he said.
Washington, who lives in Ednor-Gardens-Lakeside, said Stadium Lounge has long been an area fixture and was popular with Baltimore Colts fans, but "it's not the same place it was 40 years ago."
Henderson, in her testimony, said the carryout part of the bar is a big issue.
"When they serve it to go and it's dropped in our neighborhood, it's a problem," Henderson said.
But Kim's attorney, Bryan Everett, challenged the testimony and questioned what specific evidence residents have that Stadium Lounge patrons were the ones causing trouble in Oakenshawe.
And Everett told the Messenger that if people are drinking in alleys and back yards, it's not Stadium Lounge's fault.
"That's a problem for the city and the police department," he said.
Kim told the Messenger he cleans up in the immediate area around the bar and lobbied the Maryland Transit Administration successfuly to move a bus stop that was causing loitering.
"Now we don't have any problems."
As for drinking in alleys, "We're trying to resolve the problem somehow," he said during a break in the hearing.
Hands tied on hours
Residents also complained that the bar's hours of operation, 6 a.m to 2 a.m., are too long. But the Maryland Court of Special Appeals has ruled that only the state legislature, not liquor boards or city councils, have authority to restrict hours for liquor establishments. That would have to be done through state legislation.
"It could be," Washington said. And she told the board, "I think we all are aware that there's an issue here. The idea is for us to try to come up with a solution."
It was Fogleman who at the end of the two-hour hearing took matters into his own hands. Turning to Everett, he asked, "What is your client willing to do?"