BERLIN — The liquor industry in Worcester County could change dramatically in the coming months if officials approve a plan for a new and larger Department of Liquor Control (DLC) retail facility on Route 50.
A DLC advisory committee will present to the County Commissioners on Tuesday a proposed lease agreement for a new alcohol distribution retail operation at a shopping center development on the eastbound side of Route 50 between Berlin and West Ocean City. If the commissioners approve the recommended proposal, the future of the DLC’s existing retail outlets in West Ocean City and Berlin could be in question.
The DLC was created in 2011 by the General Assembly after the break-up of the old Liquor Control Board. The county acquired the total operation of the old LCB on July 1, 2011 and operates six retail stores at locations in Worcester.
Worcester County Assistant Chief Administrative Officer Kelly Shannahan, who serves on the DLC advisory committee, said this week the proposed new facility would represent a consolidation of the agency’s retail operation in the north end of the county.
“The intent is to create a flagship store on the eastbound side of Route 50 in a new shopping development,” he said. “The proposed lease will be presented to the County Commissioners next Tuesday.”
While the proposal does include a recommendation to close the existing DLC retail operation on Route 50 in West Ocean City, the fate of the retail store in Berlin remains in question.
“It’s still a bit up in the air,” said Shannahan. “Our proposal includes a recommendation to close the West Ocean City store, but we didn’t make any recommendations about the future of the Berlin store. The future of the Berlin store has not been determined.”
Shannahan said the commissioners will review the proposed lease for the new facility and decide the future of the other two retail outlets.
“The commissioners will act in one of several ways,” he said. “They might approve the proposed plan as recommended by the committee, or they might say no to all of it and keep things the way they are. We are merely an advisory committee and it’s up to them to make the decision.”
Shannahan said there should be no disruption to the wholesale side of the operation no matter what happens Tuesday.
“We hope to be able to improve that actually,” he said. “The proposed new facility would be considerably larger than either the West Ocean City or Berlin stores and would include retail service, but also an expanded wholesale operation to better serve the licensees …”