The BYOB Battle in Ocean City has taken a dramatic turn. The Ocean City Patch reports that petitioners submitted 583 signatures in favor of the historically dry town allowing residents to bring their own bottle of alcohol to Ocean City restaurants.
Ocean City Municipal Clerk Linda MacIntyre certified on Thursday that enough signatures of registered city voters were verified to allow for a BYOB referendum which will be voted on by the public on November 8,according to the Patch. The Patch also reports that Macintyre will present the petition to council members during a meeting on August 25.
Since the late 1800s, Ocean City has not allowed BYOB or the sale of liquor. This will change however if the public votes in favor of the proposed ordinance.
The issue has been hotly debated by many. Those in favor of BYOB say that it would bring in more business and help the town financially in the midst of the country’s recession.
“I don’t want bars, I don’t want liquor stores or anything like that but give us the right to have a BYOB,” said Ed Cox.
“I’m looking to have more people enjoy my restaurant, to enjoy the food that’s served there,” said another supporter.
Opponents argue that allowing BYOB in Ocean City would severely damage the town’s family friendly image.
“People chose to come to a place where there was no alcohol, so then to say ‘no you have to change that,’ it’s like living in a gated community, when you move in you know the restrictions,” said Peg Kendrick of Ocean City.
The issue was further discussed during a 3 p.m. city hall meeting on Friday. Ocean City Mayor Jay Gillian, a staunch critic of BYOB, agreed that the issue should be put to a public vote during the meeting, according to the Patch.
Many city council members are also against BYOB, claiming that the city’s family friendly atmosphere for buyers and renters would be compromised.
“People buy here because there’s no alcohol,” said Councilman John Kemenosh. “They may all drink, and I certainly do and the town could float a battleship just with the booze that’s in the lockers in the homes, but they don’t serve it, they don’t permit it.”
Regardless of the outcome of the November 8 vote one thing is almost certain, the debate won’t go away anytime soon.