SNOW HILL — The Worcester County Board of License Commissioners (BLC) had a busy afternoon on Wednesday, approving a liquor license for a new business in north Ocean City, some changes at a popular bayfront restaurant downtown, a few requests for businesses in Berlin and most notably, a denial of a one-day permit for a special event in a rural area of northern Worcester County associated with Bike Week in September.
The non-profit organization Law Enforcement Officers Safeguarding America (LEOSA) came before the BLC on Wednesday seeking a pair of special one-day permits for two events scheduled at Airlift Acres, a 50-acre tract along Route 113 near Showell that hosts various festivals of different styles and sizes throughout the year. LEOSA was seeking a one-day permit for a Country Music Event on July 19-20, and another one-day permit for a larger Soundwave Music Festival on Sept. 11-13 associated with Ocean City Bike Week going on at the same time.
LEOSA, a non-profit and charitable organization made up of active and retired police officers, got approval from the BLC for a special permit for the Country Music Fest at Airlift Acres on July 19-20, but the board denied the special permit for the Soundwave Music Festival, citing potential traffic problems and a dearth of other events throughout the region during Bike Week in September.
LEOSA President Tim Keane told the three-member BLC the Soundwave Music Festival, held in conjunction with the Ocean City FOP Lodge 10, would feature live music, food, vendors, exhibitors and other family-friendly activities including hayrides and carnival games. LEOSA was seeking a special permit to sell beer, wine and liquor during the event, although the latter would be in the form of frozen drinks, like daiquiris and Pina Coladas, and not a full service bar.
The organization held the same event last year and for a variety of reasons, including weather limiting turnout numbers, it did not make any money for the non-profit. Keane assured the BLC adequate security would be provided for the event, after all, it would be hosted by law enforcement officers, and that they had worked with the Worcester County Sheriff’s Office and the Maryland State Police to help monitor traffic issues.
However, after hearing assurances on a variety of issues from security to traffic, the BLC voted to deny the request for the Soundwave Music Festival, pointing out there were at least 10 similar events already in and around Ocean City during Bike Week. BLC Commissioner John Hess pointed out some of the traffic issues in relatively the same area when Bike Week was hosted at Ocean Downs in the past.
“I don’t have a problem with the July event, but the Bike Week part bothers me,” he said. “When Bike Week was at the racetrack, there were State Police all over the roadways.”
After a short break for legal consultation, the BLC returned and voted to deny the request for LEOSA’s September event.
“There are 10 events going on in the Ocean City area and the police have their hands full,” said BLC Chair William Esham, Jr. “In my opinion, there is already enough going on associated with Bike Week.”
Also on Wednesday, the BLC approved some requested changes for the de Lazy Lizard on the bay at 1st Street. De Lazy Lizard was asking for permission from the BLC to enlarge and move a raw bar on the north side of the property to an area previously devoted to parking. Lazy Lizard attorney Hugh Cropper explained the area was formerly required to be a parking area to meet the town of Ocean City’s commercial parking standards, but after de Lazy Lizard acquired other property in the area to meet the mandated parking quota, the piece of property on the large parcel in the bay became available for other uses.
Cropper said de Lazy Lizard intends to utilize the old parking area on the north side of the property for an expanded raw bar to improve its food and beverage service operation.
“We think this is a much better plan and enhances de Lazy Lizard as a nice destination,” said Cropper, who added the Ocean City Planning Commission, the OCDC and the Downtown Improvement Association had all endorsed the changes. “The owners are really focused on improving this establishment with a new management team and this is a change that will help them accomplish that.”
BLC Investigator Jeff Mayne said he had reviewed the plans on paper and in person and endorsed the change.
“Looking at the plans is one thing, but being there, you get a better feel for it,” he said. “There is no significant impact and this is just a much better use of that area.”
In addition, the BLC approved another requested change for de Lazy Lizard, allowing the establishment to have live music in the enclosed portion of the business until 1 a.m. after determining it would not impact the residential areas nearby. De Lazy Lizard will still be required to stop live music outside at midnight.
In other business on Wednesday, the BLC voted to issue a seven-day beer, wine and liquor license to Bourbon Street on the Beach, a new restaurant going into a space on the ground floor of the Fountainhead Condominium on 116th Street that had seen several different incarnations over the years. Bourbon Street on the Beach will feature an upscale full service restaurant with a focus on Cajun and New Orleans style cuisine. The owners have operated a similar restaurant in Pennsylvania for two decades.
The BLC on Wednesday also approved a request from The Globe in Berlin to operate an open-air kiosk in the alcove area at the front of the restaurant to sell alcoholic beverages during the town’s Jazz and Blues Festival and the May Day Play Day special event. The BLC approved the special permit after getting assurances from owner Jennifer Dawicki that the beverages would be sold only in paper or plastic cups and no glass containers and that proper security measures were in place to ensure no underage sales. Satisfied with the assurances, the BLC approved the request.
“The town of Berlin has approved these events,” said Esham. “She does such a great job and is a real asset to the town.”
In another issue related to Berlin, the BLC approved some light live entertainment inside and outside at the Tex-Mex and Beyond Restaurant on Main Street after a minor concession on the hours it would be allowed. Owner Ernest Gerardi was requesting approval for live music in the form of a guitarist or violinist or possibly a combination to play for individual tables at both the inside and outside portions of the restaurant from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Monday through Saturday and from 1 p.m. to 9 p.m. on Sunday.
After some debate, and testimony from a neighboring couple who voiced concern about the 9 p.m. stop time, the BLC approved the request but altered the stop time to sundown on each day.
Finally, in what was merely a clerical change, the BLC approved a seven-day beer, wine and liquor license for Caruso’s Pizza on the Boardwalk and Wild Bill’s in downtown Ocean City. The change was necessary because of a change in the ownership group of the two facilities.