Dock of the Bay Fined $4,000 by Liquor Board

Liquor commissioners rule the waterside restaurant's musical entertainment violated county regulations, judge's order.

A Millers Island bar owner’s unusual iPod accessory has landed him in hot water with the county Board of Liquor License Commissioners.

The three-member panel Monday fined Larry Thanner, co-owner and operator of Dock of the Bay, $2,000 on each of two counts related to his use of a barge to play music outside his bar.

During his testimony, Thanner said he was being unfairly singled out by the liquor board, and said many nearby restaurants on the water play much louder music than his bar.

“I’m the only restaurant in Baltimore County that can’t have music,” Thanner said.

The four-hour show cause hearing in Towson was the latest in an ongoing six-year dispute between Thanner and several local residents over the volume of music at his restaurant and bar, including a contempt order issued last year by a Baltimore County Circuit Court Judge.

Thanner built the small barge in the water off his outdoor patio this spring as a way of circumventing that order.

Judge Robert N. Dugan in November ordered Thanner to dismantle the Dock of the Bay's outdoor speaker system. He also issued a ban on live bands, music, D.J., karaoke and all other forms of music on site.

The basis of the contempt order was that the Dock of the Bay was not zoned as a nightclub.

Thanner built the barge for his iPod. From there, he played Jimmy Buffett and other “island music” for customers over Memorial Day weekend.

Thanner said he did not believe Dugan had jurisdiction over the water near his restaurant and bar. Additionally, he said he did not interpret the contempt order to include soft rock “house music” piped inside while guests ate lunch or dinner.

“I don’t consider that entertainment,” Thanner said.

Residents who live near the bar and one county official disagreed.

Charles Wolinski, Brad Metheny and Kay Sessa wrote complaint letters June 1 about the music over Memorial Day weekend. All three testified, along with Miller’s Island Community Association President Denise Haas, that the bar violated Dugan’s order and that the music was loud enough to be heard in their homes.

Michael Mohler, chief administrator for the liquor board, in a written report, said he heard soft rock music playing on speakers inside the restaurant on the afternoon of May 19 while visiting the restaurant about a separate issue. Mohler stated during his testimony that he believed Dugan’s contempt order banned the playing of any music whatsoever on the premises.

Several Dock of the Bay employees testified that the music from the barge was not loud and could not be heard in some places in and around the restaurant.

The three-member board found Thanner and his bar violated county regulations prohibiting bars from disturbing the peace of the neighborhood in which they are located. They also ruled that the bar violated the judge’s order.

The $2,000 for each violation represents the maximum amount the board can legally impose.

The ruling left both sides unhappy.

Thanner’s attorney, David F. Mister, said Thanner has 30 days to file an appeal in circuit court. Mister said a decision to appeal has not yet been made.

Sessa said she was not satisfied that the board, which has the power to suspend or revoke a liquor license, had merely levied fines against Thanner.

“I’m not happy with it,” Sessa said, adding that she believes Thanner will try playing music again and everyone will be back before the board again at some point.

Eastsider June 22, 2011 at 05:36 PM
I been to the Dock countless times weekend and weekdays and you can’t hear the music until your right up on the restaurant. As far as the 52 unit condo I don’t think that’s going to create any traffic jams. I think you and your small group is on a witch hunt after a man that pissed you all off.
Talonya June 22, 2011 at 05:39 PM
When you live in a community, the community is your business. No one was fighting him on building a house there, nor a townhouse or a couple of units. But the lot and the neighborhood is way to small for a 52 unit condo nor is it zoned for that. Maybe if someone would have stood up for you back then, the community wouldn't have gotten as populated as it is and you would have your wish of it being the same as it was back then. Nothing wrong with standing up for yourself and your community, sorry you didn't that.
Tawanda June 22, 2011 at 05:43 PM
Isabel changed the face of Millers Island. It brought the good and the bad. Residents on Hinton want to defend DOB, but I recall a time when they complained about Anderson's, how quick they forget. Residents had called meetings with Thanner to discuss issues and called to ask them nicely to turn down the volume. The issue is his and his alone, HE HAS CREATED THIS SITUATION, not the residents! If you break the law then expect consequences. He brought this on himself!
Tawanda June 22, 2011 at 05:54 PM
No one has tried to get DOB shut down. He has broken laws that have been in effect for a looooong time! He has offended Baltimore County with his arrogance and his own interpretations of the law and continually shoots himself in the foot! This could have ended long ago but he continues to antagonize. He is a drama queen and thrives off of all the attention he is getting.....Poor Little Larry! Oh, unless you are a resident, this is NOT your area!
Talonya June 22, 2011 at 05:57 PM
I never said I was part of any group.. and I am not. A 52 condo unit would put a very high traffic volume up and down directly in front of my house. It wasn't there when I bought the house, and I don't expect it ever will be. I didn't buy a house to live in a city like area. If that was the case, I would have bought one in the city. I will repeat myself yet again... It's not about the music for me, it's about Thanners ethics. HE HAS NONE he is all about money and greed.
Tawanda June 22, 2011 at 06:11 PM
The residents FAR outnumber Thanner and his supporters on Millers Island and they have their vision too. Are you suggesting that we just let Thanner take over? LOL What you FAIL to see is that we are a peninsula in a protected Critical Bay area, how much growing do you think we can support here. You must be one of those boaters who dump their holding tanks in the bay. You are all defending someone who you know nothing about! Were you there at 2:00 a.m. when he intentionally has his patrons rev their engines, crank up their stereos and race down the road to purposely wake up residents who have to work the next day and children who have to go to school? All this because someone THINKS he can do anything he wants and get away with it!
Talonya June 22, 2011 at 06:13 PM
BTW: To the person that said to bar everyone! ROFLMAO! Sorry, but you're not a very smart person... Do you think they actually go there? And if they do, he can't AFFORD to bar them. LOL
Tawanda June 22, 2011 at 06:14 PM
If a restaurant is not making money it is not because they don't play music.....maybe they need a better cook.
Tawanda June 22, 2011 at 06:24 PM
I too have lived here a long time. First it was water and sewer and then Isabel that excelerated the change. We would all like to see things remain the same but that will never happen. The only one creating any tension and conflict in Millers Island is Thanner. There is MUCH more to this than he is leading people to believe! If you knew the whole story you would not be defending him.
Tawanda June 22, 2011 at 06:40 PM
Or the bar owners who buy a bar in a residential neighborhood and then complain because they can't play loud music outside.
Tawanda June 22, 2011 at 06:51 PM
Dawn - What rock did you climb out from under, Anderson's has been closed since 2002! What's your address? Maybe we can buy the house next door to you and make it a bar. I'd like to give you the benefit of doubt that you just don't understand, so I'll break it down for you, IT IS THE LAW. He is not zoned for outside music. He did try to get Johnny O to pass a bill to change it but we shot that down to protect all the other communities in Baltimore County that it would have also been affected. There are almost 400 other bars with the same zoning, Baltimore Co. has no complaints about any of them....gee could it be that they are responsible owners??? Or that Larry just likes the attention this brings to him??
Get Smart June 22, 2011 at 06:52 PM
Wise up! Thanner is the root cause for his legal troubles, not the Old Islanders or the New Islanders
Tawanda June 22, 2011 at 07:26 PM
Millers Island is NOT a new community. The housing boom was because our homes were destroyed by Isabel and we were forced to rebuild. Don't you think our community has been through enough?? There has only been one new home built near DOB the rest already lived there, some for decades, their homes are new because they were forced to rebuild. The problem is the news media brought people in from outside the area thinking they were going to take advantage of and get rich off of the hurricane victims. But then that is the American way now.
Tawanda June 22, 2011 at 08:17 PM
Get a life Eastsider. We won't come in your neighborhood and tell you what to do and YOU don't come in ours. My property tax bill says Millers Island what does yours say?
Anonymous June 22, 2011 at 08:20 PM
Interesting as one of the three-panel members against the restaurant is married to a person who's family owned the same building back in the 80's - a hard rock nightclub. Was okay then but not now? Seems kind of hypocritical to me. That place has been there long before many of those homes & people lived there.
Harlyman June 22, 2011 at 09:21 PM
Malcontents? Bill of rights? Right of expression? Are you freaking kidding me? Thanner had the ability to play music at the Dock after he bought the place. He started out slow and low and got louder then longer hours until complaints had to be made as he refused to work with the neighbors. He was charged and lost and appealed and lost and still played music which resulted in his contempt of court order. Then he puts it on a raft when he is ordered not to have it at all. His ability to play music was a privilege not a right under his zoning. He abused that privilege numerous times and that is what got him to where he is now. Don't come down here an flout your very misguided opinion like he is being victimized. He has been the aggressor through this entire process and has done this to himself. . Please stick to issues that you know something about because this sure isn't one of them.
Harlyman June 22, 2011 at 09:44 PM
@ Stephanie, With respect to the fact that you say you have lived here since 1967 then you should know more than anyone that THIS IS OUR BACK YARD! Sheesh..............
Harlyman June 22, 2011 at 09:49 PM
You are saying that you are a bar owner on Millers Island? Really, which one? There are 4 and I know the owners!
Ken Seebode June 22, 2011 at 10:01 PM
For the record I myself am not defending Mr.Thanner. It's the thought of the can of worm's that the community has opened. Beer can's\bottles,litter,urinating in public,or a dirty kitchen I can understand, but if this snowball's your gonna have to drive a long way to hear some music with your crab's and beer my friend's! I just think the community picked the wrong battle. One bar owner and a few of the patron's will not be the end of this. It will effect musician's and music lover's a like...and well thats pretty much everybody.
Talonya June 22, 2011 at 11:03 PM
The community did not open that can, Thanner did, when He came down here and thought he could do whatever he wanted. It's not JUST about the music.
Ken Seebode June 23, 2011 at 04:13 AM
If it's not JUST about the music then you should probably persue one of the other option's. Any of them would have been better than the music issue. I'm just sayin'.
Harlyman June 23, 2011 at 11:50 AM
Ken, since Thanner refuses to work with the neighbors, refuses to follow liquor board laws pertaining to noise coming from his business, refuses to obey zoning law's, and even a contempt of Court order from Balt. Co. then what are the other options that you know about that could be pursued? He was able to play music when he bought the place and has ruined it for himself because he refuses to comply. Had he worked to try to control the noise from his business then there probably would not have been complaints and he could have operated just like all the other bars in Balt. Co. He chose to do the opposite.
Harlyman June 23, 2011 at 11:54 AM
BTW did I mention that I was a broadcaster and a music promoter!
Stephanie Wiatrowski Davis June 23, 2011 at 02:41 PM
I am not defending him, I'm defending the right to play music in a bar/restaurant. Seriously, it's only being played during daytime hours. To take the right away ... from him to play any music even a radio inside while people are eating is ridiculous. You people are attacking the business, because you don't like the man. How would you like to own a business & be told how to run it? or buy a piece of property & everything you want to do with it .. you are told by the neighbors "NO" that's unacceptable. I for one, know a few of the people behind this crusade & they really should really be thankful their neighbors don't report them for how bad their yards are with junk & trash. Lucky for them...their neighbors MIND THEIR OWN BUSINESS!
Elaine Summerhill June 23, 2011 at 06:35 PM
" If I wanted a church and a school, I would have moved to Edgemere or Sparrows Point. People live in MI because it is the way it is. " Miller's Island lost its appeal for me a long, long time ago. It isn't the place it used to be. At one time, MI was a very friendly place. When I was a kid, we'd go to the amusement park on Pleasure Island. We'd swim at Ramona's beach and eat at Ramona's, while pop would fish off the bridge going to Pleasure Island. In the 60's, pop lost his fishing spot, but we still went there. In the 90's, the temper of the place changed and Isabel exacerbated the change. I have to wonder how many of the "new islanders" are from places like NYC, DC, or even (gasp), California. I did visit MI after the new homes were built post Isabel. I was shocked at the 5 acre houses built on small plots of land. The houses certainly smack of people wanting to live a high falutin' life or, as my mom would say, "having champagne taste on a beer budget." Somehow, it doesn't surprise me that the place is in the midst of those "champagne" houses. Sure am glad that I no longer frequent the place. It is very, very sad tho'.
Talonya June 24, 2011 at 04:45 PM
Elaine, I hear about how great it was all the time and about Pleasure Island. I would have loved to of seen it then. I bet it a lot of fun. And bet your bottom dollar, that if it was like that now, I would be the first to stand up and advocate to keep it that way. You old timers come on here and talk about all this, but OBVIOUSLY not ONE of you stood up for your community and advocate to keep it that way. As most are doing now. You think it's awful now, imagine no one standing up to Thanner and it turning into a little city in another 10 years! What then? The reality of it is... Things change and different generations come in and do different things. You're so for what it USED to be like, but yet it sounds to me that you don't care what Thanner is doing. I still find MI a friendly place full of fun things to do on the water. We fish, we crab, we take the boat out. My daughter and her friends go swimming and hang out. And sometimes we'll walk up to The Islander and have dinner and drinks. It's awesome to live there! And let me not forget to mention we have a low crim rate (LOL, like none). And the residents are not going to let Thanner ruin it. The morale there is much better than most think or the news media leads people to believe.
Elaine Summerhill June 25, 2011 at 07:56 PM
Were you around back then? Obviously not if you assume that none of the old timers stood up for their vision of the community. The biggest battle that comes to mind is the fight that was put up over the proposed plans to dike Hart-Millers Island and fill it with dredged sludge from Baltimore's harbor. That was back in the 70's, hon. We lost that fight. BTW, you do know what the word, ASSUME, means, right? Stop being such a putz. The world doesn't revolve around you & only you.
music ismylife June 28, 2011 at 05:00 PM
It's not really about the music. It never REALLY was! Yes, of course, in the beginning the music was loud late into the night, after most families prefer to be asleep. However, several of those closest to the bar approached Mr. Thanner with those concerns on more than one occasion requesting he simply lower the volume after a reasonable hour. In fact, the previous owners of DOTB (prior to its destruction in Hurricane Isabel) had live music nearly every weekend in the summer. It was wonderful!! Steel drums, acoustic guitar duos, etc. but the outside music never went later than 8:00 p.m. and was always kept to a reasonable volume inside and out. Those owners were very respectful of the small community that "they had moved into." Yes, Millers Island has always been known for its many bars and vacation like atmosphere. As one who has been around for a long time, I wouldn't want to live anyplace else! Let it be known that of all the people involved in this battle, Mr. Thanner was the last one to move into the community, as he quoted "Taking advantage of someone's misfortune", after Isabel destroyed the restaurant. These neighbors have been living next to Fisherman's Inn, and Dock of the Bay before Mr. Thanner came along. Perhaps if Mr. Thanner had responded differently to those inital requests, we wouldn't be reading this today. The people went to him out of respect for his business and all they got was grief. Keep the music - get rid of the owner. Please!!
music ismylife June 28, 2011 at 05:47 PM
Copied from a comment to a Baltimore Sun article 6/14/2009 - attesting to Mr. Thanner's character - nice guy, huh? Mr. Thanner purchased the restaurant after Hurricane Isabel. At that time, Mr. Thanner stated (on TV) that he took advantage of someone's misfortune by buying the restaurant after it was completely destroyed. He did in fact remodel and create a nice place to enjoy the Baltimore County waterfront. It's just very unfortunate that he has no respect for the community that has surrounded it many years prior. He also stated that if he has to stop the entertainment, he would file a formal complaint against every restaurant in Baltimore County that plays music.
mdb May 23, 2012 at 07:01 PM
OMG Tawanda seriously! My family lived on Miller's Island - but at that time (1940's) it was ALL businesses. The folks who ran them lived on the island in small shacks! My father, & grand parents all lived in a one room shack! These businesses were on Miller's Island LONG before those homes were even built. I used to work for DOB. I'm NOT a Larry Thanner fan. I find him to be an arrogant, sweaty old perv of a man. We didn't see eye to eye on most things. I can assure you that when I left my shift at 10PM & walked onto the parking lot to get into my car, I could hear the music...but barely to the point that it would disturb neighbor behind the walls of their homes. I have always felt that this constant battle between DOB and a "few" of the residents was more of a personal vendetta. One of the main petitioners built a home NEXT to DOB right after it was sold to Mr. Thanner...If you build a house next to a bar and you expect peace and quiet your a MORON! Mr. Thanner also owns additional property on Cuckold Pt. Road. I recall an episode while I was working there where a resident wrote "Larry Sucks @i$%" in spray paint on the sign. Very mature fellow MI residents. One day you will get your wish and MI, Sparrows Pt. & Edgemere will be a ghost town. It won't be adventageous for business owners to set up shop in the area. People will lose their jobs, you will have to drive 10 miles to the closed gas station....etc. One day you will get exactly what you're looking for.


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