Waltherson Improvement Association
Wednesday, February 1, 2012
HARBEL Community Organization

Ron Lesperance – chaired meeting
Everly Brown – note taker
38 in attendance

New Business:
1.       5009 Harford Rd Hookah Bar – Councilman Curran, Councilman Scott and  Regina Lansinger of Hamilton-Lauraville Main Street met with Craig Bergling regarding the proposed business.  Mr. Bergling was informed that he needs to meet with WIA and get their approval, if not, he would have to through a public hearing with the BMZA.  The business will need to meet the provisions of the Clean Air Act.  Regina mentioned that the block has been targeted for improvement and stated that activity in the area would be positive.

2.       House of Hookah – Craig Bergling presented a plan for the business to the WIA.  He describes it as an alternative to a bar.  There are two rooms: the front room is 12 x 15, the 2nd room is 12 x 12.  He proposes 4-5 tables in the back room each seating 4-5 people.  He does not intend to do any advertising, relying on word of mouth instead.  He is not allowed to prepare hot food, but will offer pre-made, pre-packaged food in a cold display. Will not be selling cigarettes or wrapping papers, only hookahs and their cleaning accessories. Wants to cultivate a mature, laid back environment.
  • Hours – Mon-Wed 12PM-8PM, Thu-Sat 12PM-1AM, Sunday closed. Does not want to attract after bar crowds.
  • Parking – there is a driveway along the side of the building, lots of Harford Rd. parking, possibility to rent a few spaces at the BP parking lot.  Will try to persuade customers to not park on side streets.  WIA is concerned about people walking up and down the streets late at night.
  • Security – will hire an off-duty Baltimore City police officer for peak hours.  Will ask people to move along and not loiter and not cut through neighbor’s yards.
  • Jobs – the possibility to employ at least 10 people from the neighborhood.
  • Business Experience – real estate investment
  • Renovation – spoke to Hamilton-Lauraville Main Street about grants.  Want to invest and up-grade.  Passed fire inspection, however, have not been given a capacity number yet.

General Membership Vote by show of hands – yay 7, nay 4.  WIA membership voted its approval of the business as described.  Will send a letter of support to Craig Bergling, and Councilman Curran.

Crime Report:
Deputy Rutherford stated that in January of last year there had been 148 incidents of crime.  This has now dropped to 100 incidents for January 2012, a significant drop.  There have been some major arrests in Ednor Gardens and Mayfield that have made a big impact.  The police are focusing on people victimized in their homes and on the street.  They are pulling recidivism lists, knocking on the offenders doors and pursuing priority warrants.

Helene reported again that the corner of Southern and Arabia has a problem with drug activity.  Deputy Rutherford asked that one person serve as a point person to funnel information to Lt. Robinson, Rutherford and the 666-DRUG hot-line.

Helicopter incident – there were 5 calls with 3 different descriptions of the suspect.  Response time was 2 minutes after the 1st call (per police).  Helene believed the response time to be closer to 20 minutes.

Another WIA resident reported drug activity on Belwood Ave. (between Biddison Lane and Chesmont Ave.).  The resident claimed that the alley has seen heavy drug traffic.  The police ask that we call and give them the best description possible, the time frame of when the dealing usually occurs, and a good location to watch from. 

Mike Hilliard presented the latest crime statistics (12/22/11 – 1/21/12).  There were 12 burglaries compared to 22 last year.

Councilman Brandon Scott is supporting an initiative to allow online low priority crime reports by citizens without waiting for an officer to appear.  Seattle and Charlotte are already using this and it has saved tax dollars and allowed citizens to have a report for insurance purposes.  Councilman Scott requested that we email to show our support.