At the close of a lengthy Show Cause hearing before the Cecil County Board of License Commissioners on Wednesday morning, the board voted to suspend Lee’s Landing liquor license.
The vote was 2 to 0. Liquor Board chairman Tim Snelling recused himself from the hearing because he said he is a regular customer at the Port Deposit establishment.
The hearing was called based on a claim that Lee’s Landing had not paid all of their delinquent bills from the government.
Lee’s Landing attorney, Shelley Upton, who represents the Limited Liability Corporation (LLC) that owns the land as well as the LLC that operates the business, was able to show that the restaurant had satisfied outstanding tax bills from the Maryland Comptroller and that they had redeemed the property after it was sold at tax sale. They had also recently paid the $3,140 owned in personal property taxes.
County attorney Jason Allison told the Liquor Board that Lee’s Landing property-owning LLC had failed to adhere to an agreement made with them concerning the public sewage allocation.
Lee’s Landing had been told they needed three sewer ELU’s at the time they opened under the new management LLC. This cost $36,000 and the LLC responsible for this cost paid one-third down and had ten years to pay off the rest of the bill. An ELU figure is based on the amount of sewage being discharged to be treated at the county’s sewer plant. Additionally, the county was to monitor the sewer outflow from the property and the LLC responsible for the sewer agreement was to begin purchasing additional sewer ELUs, up to a total of ten more ELUs, at a total cost of $120,000.
Allison said the LLC did not comply with the agreement and the document was canceled by the county some months ago, making Lee’s Landing immediately responsible for the ten ELUs. He said the county would be making a decision to possibly revoke Lee’s Landing’s Certificate of Occupancy on Wednesday afternoon.
Pleading Lee’s Landing management LLC’s case, Upton said the management and property ownership are two separate LLCs and the management of Lee’s Landing had no issues with the county and the liquor license should not be in jeopardy.
Liquor Board attorney Norman Wilson asked if the two LLCs had the same membership and it was disclosed that Dave Carey is a part of both LLCs. Wilson also noted that when there was a change in one of the LLC’s involved with Lee’s Landing, the Liquor Board was not notified, which is a violation.
Carey addressed the board, suggesting there was some type of vendetta against the business, saying his first shock was to have to pay $36,000 before he could even open.
“Is that how business owners are treated in Cecil County?” Carey said, noting his business employs dozens of people and has been honored as being a top tourist attraction.
Allison assured him that he and and county only have “an interest in the health, safety and welfare of our citizens.”
After an executive session, the Liquor Board suspended the license, saying it could be reinstated after the county said Lee’s Landing had satisfied their bills.
As the Liquor Board meeting continued, Lee’s Landing representatives and the county attorney worked out an arrangement with Lee’s Landing Carey promising a $40,000 check to the county on Wednesday and a signature on a new financing agreement for the 10 ELUs so that their liquor license could be reinstated the same day.