Photo from “All Things Deanwood” on Facebook.
Residents who live near DC’s border have Maryland residents as neighbors, but local laws often act as though nothing but desert lies beyond Western, Eastern, and Southern Avenues. In Ward 7’s Deanwood community, residents are protesting a liquor license in their neighborhood, but any decision will ignore a critical element: Capitol Heights, Maryland.
Uncle Lee’s Seafood and Carry-Out, located on the northwest corner of Sheriff Road and Eastern Avenue NE, has applied for a “Retailer A” liquor license, which would allow for the sale of beer, wine, and spirits. In a ward that has more than 20 times the number of stores with an off-premise liquor license than groceries stores, it is safe to say another doesn’t rank on the list of community needs.
Even bigger than the issue of an additional license is that there are already two other liquor stores at that intersection on the Prince George’s County side of Eastern Avenue.
Jock’s Liquor, located on northeast corner, sells beer, wine, and spirits. Sheriff Carry-Out, on the southeast corner, sells beer and wine.
Despite the existence of these two liquor stores, the Alcohol and Beverage Regulatory Administration (ABRA) in DC is not required to consider their presence. Because they are located in Maryland, they will not be a factor at the April 13 hearing or ABRA’s decision whether Uncle Lee’s will receive a liquor license. In addition, Maryland residents across Eastern Avenue are not permitted to testify on the impact an additional liquor store will have on their quality of life.
All of this leads to a larger issue: When considering regulatory actions in communities near a jurisdictional border, should local government be required to engage the community outside their jurisdiction?
Using Uncle Lee’s as an example, should the impact to Maryland residents be given “great weight” during the liquor license protest hearing? Should ABRA be required to consider existence of liquor license across the street in Maryland? What role, if any, should the Prince George’s County government play in the process?
The issues are likely more complex than the above questions suggest, but there is a clear need for some level of inter-jurisdictional coordination. Maryland and DC have their boundaries, but quality of life issues do not.