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A St. Mary’s family’s bid to transform its oldest grocery store into a smaller shop and an upscale eatery stalled Thursday as the county’s liquor board resurrected past issues about the unique nature of the business’ existing alcohol permit.

A lawyer had prepared a detailed letter about the liquor license Marilyn McKay obtained in 1967 for the liquor store in the grocery along Hollywood Road. The lawyer argued that the members of the county alcohol beverage board at that time had determined that the store was not subject to a 1962 state ban on new alcohol licenses for chain stores, supermarkets or discount houses.

Michael Davis had written the letter in support of a request by McKay’s daughter-in-law, Laschelle McKay, to get a restaurant alcohol permit for the Fresh Express business she plans to open inside a portion of the grocery store building.

Board Chairman Moses P. Saldaña, however, spoke up about the existing license amid a preliminary request on Thursday to reduce the square footage of the building governed by that permit. “It’s a change,” Saldaña said, in the existing license.

“I think your idea is great,” he added moments later. “In some cases, our hands are tied.”

The liquor board declined a request last year that the liquor license at the Hollywood Road store be transferred to the McKay family’s grocery in California’s Wildewood shopping center.

Davis argued that Thursday’s request was different.

“Reducing the size of the [licensed] premises is not tantamount to trying to transfer it to another location,” the lawyer said. “Reducing the premises does not qualify as a modification.”

The board’s members agreed with Saldaña’s recommendation that they table the matter until next month’s meeting, to allow more time to clarify the matter.

“I think that’s the way we should proceed with this one,” the chairman said.

jwharton@somdnews.com