When Lisa Williams’ Upper Marlboro town house was burglarized in 2009, she attributed the incident to a neighboring shopping center she calls “troublesome.”
As a result, Williams, 45, is now among a group of residents and Upper Marlboro officials fighting plans for a liquor store at the Marlborough Village Shopping Center because she fears it will bring more criminal activity. She’s circulating a petition to garner more support in her battle.
“We already have over 300 signatures, so we clearly don’t want it,” said Williams, who plans to submit the petition to the Prince George’s County Board of License Commissioners, the agency responsible for approval and transfer of liquor licenses. “It’s going to negatively impact the community. We don’t want to be exposed to more violence.”
Upper Marlboro’s commissioners said they would submit a letter to the liquor board to make their opposition known, as well.
“It would be a real detriment to the people up there,” said Steve Sonnett, president of the town’s board of commissioners. “There’s been a lot of problems up there, and I’m concerned about security and the increase in potential crime coming down here.”
The board of license commissioners plans to vote on the store’s request during a Feb. 26 hearing.
Attorney Bob Kim represents Osborne Wine and Spirits and its owners, and said he has not yet been made aware of any petition or opposition letters but that he will arrange to meet with town officials or community groups if any are filed with the liquor board.
“These people run a good business. They’ve never had a problem with the [liquor] board and have never had a violation,” Kim said.
Kim’s clients currently have a store named Osborne Liquors in the 7500 block of Crain Highway in greater Upper Marlboro, about four miles from the proposed location in Marlborough Village Shopping Center. Kim said the owners want to relocate to Marlborough Village because the Crain Highway shopping center is undergoing renovations that would force the store to close for a while.
He said the owners see the move as a chance to change their branding and expand. If approved, the new store would be 2,928 square feet and have a wider selection of wines, craft beers and liquor, Kim said.
Williams said the liquor store would add to an already bad problem. After her home was broken into, she learned that one of her neighbor’s town houses was burglarized a week earlier. She said she frequently sees people loitering and using profanity.
County police said there are “almost no calls for service” in the shopping center.
Lt. Bill Alexander, a county police spokesman, said there was one theft from a vehicle in September and fewer than six calls for disorderly people in the parking lot at the center. In the immediate area around the center, there were 32 calls for service from October 2012 to January, which included vehicle theft and breaking-and-entering incidents.
“Typically, there is only a concern for liquor stores when they are in urban areas and areas with high volumes of foot traffic,” Alexander said.
The shopping center, which is just outside Upper Marlboro’s town limits, has a number of vacancies and is sprinkled with shops such as the Dutch Village Farmers Market, a karate studio, a nail salon and a CVS Pharmacy.
The property is owned by NAI Michael of Lanham. Dennis Brownlee, head of property at NAI Michael, said the center is policed by county police officers. He said he was not aware of any problems with criminal activity and declined to comment further.