Rockville city officials, who have decided that neighborhood shopping centers and the sale of beer and wine don't mix, are fighting to block a liquor license sought by a delicatessen in the Woodley Gardens Shopping Center.
Owners of the Nelson Street Delly say their small, Kosher-style carry-out will be doomed if the Montgomery County Board of License Commissioners rules against them. A decision on the license is expected within a week.
Beer and wine are an economic necessity. If we don't get a license we'll have to sell the store," said store operator Lee Jacobs.
Jacobs and store owner Robert Pollinger said they would gladly stop selling liquor at 8 p.m., forfeiting the most lucrative selling hours, from 8 p.m. until 1 a.m. if only the county would grant them a license.
City officials argue that sale of beer and wine in community shopping centers draws youths who loiter in the area, causing problems. City Council members unsuccessfully opposed the granting of a liquor license to a pizza parlor in the Burgundy Park Shopping Center six months ago. City police say that center has been the scene of numerous complaints of disorderly conduct by loiterers.
Council member John Tyner said the city effort to block the Nelson Street Delly's license is not pointed at the shop's operators.
"We acknowledge they are responsible businessmen trying to make a go of it," he said. But he agreed with other council members that sale of beer and wine in neighborhood shopping centers appears to be a source of problems.
Rockville Mayor Edward Hanna Jr., who lives in the Woodley Garden area as do council members Phyllis Fordham and John Freeland, is confident the city officials will succeed in blocking the delicatessen's liquor license.
In a letter to the liquor board, the council cites a state law that forbids granting a liquor license to a store within 700 feet of a school, church or youth center sponsored by a government agency. The Nelson Street Delly is opposite a youth center. And although the liquor board can, with a unanimous decision, grant a license to an establishment within 300 feet of such facilities, Hanna hopes it will not.
Store operators Pollinger and Jacobs counter that their establishment is "the only Kosher-style delly withing a 6 1/2-mile radius and people want us here."