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Appellate court sinks proposed floating restaurant next to Tiki Barge

The proposed floating restaurant next to the Tiki Barge has again been rejected by a Maryland court.

The Court of Special Appeals last week affirmed a ruling in Baltimore City Circuit Court, which had affirmed a liquor board decision not to expand Parkway Swirnow Inc.’s liquor license in the Harborview community to include Raw Barge Seafood Co.

Parkway Swirnow already holds the liquor license for Tiki Barge and nearby Tabrizi’s and Sorso Cafe, but its plans for the Raw Barge have twice been stymied by the city’s Board of Liquor License Commissioners. Each denial has been praised by nearby residents, who have lodged complaints about rowdiness, public nudity and public urination by Tiki Barge patrons.

The liquor board first denied the license expansion in March 2012, finding the Raw Barge would have a “deleterious impact on the welfare of the community” because there is only one way on and off the pier and no public parking.

Parkway Swirnow appealed, arguing the decision went beyond the facts before the liquor board, and in November 2012, a circuit court judge sent the matter back to the board to explain its opinion and make specific findings of fact.

The liquor board’s second opinion, in January 2013, referenced residents’ complaints against the Tiki Barge and the suspension of the Tiki Barge’s liquor license for 30 days in 2011 because of a lack of security on the premises. (The bar’s owners paid a fine and agreed to add more security in exchange for the lifting of the suspension.)

Parkway Swirnow again appealed but a second circuit court judge ruled the liquor board commissioners “did not inappropriately reach outside of the record” to make their decision.

A unanimous three-judge panel for the Court of Special Appeals agreed, finding an agency may use information not formally introduced during a hearing so long as the information is available to the party and the party should know the agency might consider it.

“It was not reasonable for Parkway Swirnow to presume that the Board would consider only the more positive aspects of the Tiki Barge settlement (i.e., the conditions that had been imposed to settle the dispute), while overlooking the underlying problems that had caused the Board to suspend the license just months earlier,” Judge Kevin F. Arthur wrote. “The basic requirements of procedural fairness have been satisfied.”

The unreported opinion is Parkway Swirnow Inc. v. Board of Liquor License Commissioners for Baltimore City, No. 0586, Sept. 2014 Term.

(HT: Steve Fogleman, aka the “Baltimore Beer Baron.”)

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