ELKTON — Cooper’s Market and Deli, located at 199 Old Chestnut Road in Elkton, recently changed hands although the new owners have been fined $250 by the Cecil County Liquor Board for selling alcohol without a liquor license.

The Cecil County Board of License Commissioners heard from Earl Bradford, chief inspector for the liquor board, that on two days in early June he purchased beer at the store. The Elkton property was purchased by Michael and Wanda Brown effective May 29 but the new owners did not have a Class A license. The business’s previews license remained in the names of the previous operators of the store, William Cooper Jr. and Kyle Cooper.

In an email to the Browns dated May 27, Robin Trader, administrative assistant to the liquor board, advised them not to conduct any alcohol sales until getting approval from the board.

Will Riddle, the Elkton attorney representing the Browns, was aghast that the board required its permission as part of the settlement.

“You’re controlling the transfer of real estate?” Riddle asked. “I’m confused why there’s a violation when Mr. Cooper still ran the business.” He pointed to language in the board’s rules, section E-12 specifically, which he interpreted as not having a requirement of prior approval.

“It’s always been done that way,” Bradford said in response.

Riddle explained that the Browns had a lease agreement with Cooper to continue to operate the store under his liquor license while the Browns went through the settlement and license transfer processes.

Both sides of the debate went into closed session and came out with the announcement of the $250 in fines and also an agreement that — effective July 1 — that Cooper would no longer hold the license to the market and deli and it would be transferred to Michael and Wanda Brown.

However, the proceedings presented one other hitch. Trader said that the Maryland Comptroller’s Office had informed the liquor board that taxes were owed.

“We cannot issue the new license until the Maryland tax issue is resolved,” Bradford said.

Wanda Brown noted that she and Michael were pursuing a license that would allow them to host monthly wine and alcohol tastings.

“Would you go through local breweries and wineries in the area?” asked Kristen Ortt, liquor board member.

“That is definitely our intention,” Brown said of the tasting events, but added it would not be exclusively local businesses.

The Cecil County Liquor Board ultimately approved the transfer with the condition of the resolution of the outstanding state taxes.

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