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Towson leaders hope new bill can address crime, convince Starbucks to reopen

Starbucks is now closed at Joppa Road and Loch Raven Boulevard
Posted at 2:20 PM, Mar 23, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-23 17:09:04-04

BALTIMORE — Towson community leaders are hoping that an update to Baltimore County's "padlock law" could help address public safety concerns at the Joppa Road/Loch Raven Boulevard intersection.

The busy intersection got a major blow recently, when the "Bel-Loc" Starbucks closed permanently - and area residents and businessleaders say that crime from nearby hotels, especially The Welcome Inn, is to blame.

Jordan Levine, of the Joppa-Loch Raven task force, said the task force voted unanimously last night to support the "padlock law" changes, which would crack down on businesses if at least two public-nuisance violations occur within two years.

The task force members all plan to testify in support of the bill at the County Council's March 29 work session at 4 p.m.

"We found that the surrounding hotels put us in an untenable position," said Levine, adding the group was "very disappointed" that Starbucks closed. He said Starbucks told them that crime, especially coming from The Welcome Inn, was the reason for closing.

For example, a stabbing happened at The Welcome Inn on Monday night, right before the group met. Baltimore County police confirmed that someone was stabbed at about 11:09 p.m. on Loch Bend Drive; the victim has non-life-threatening injuries.

The task force hopes they can convince Starbucks to change their mind and reopen once again. Levine noted that Starbucks apparently has a seven-year lease left on the property.

He pointed out that the updated "padlock law" wouldn't necessarily shut problematic businesses down for good, but would hopefully put them on notice to make improvements.

County Executive Johnny Olszewski said previously about the proposed bill that it would "provide law enforcement with a stronger tool to prevent properties from becoming havens for illegal activity.”

County Police Chief Melissa Hyatt also said in a prior statement that the updated law is needed "to effectively address the small number of establishments that repeatedly endanger public safety."

The County Council is expected to vote on the bill at its April 4 meeting, which starts at 6 p.m.