General Assembly Considers New OC Liquor License

OCEAN CITY – With more and more privately promoted special events in town each year, a bill making its way through the General Assembly would create a different Ocean City promoter’s liquor license to sell beer, wine and other alcohol.

Special events are staples on the resort calendar, and many offer the sale of beer and wine, and in some cases, liquor. Heretofore, the town or not-for-profit organizations acquire the requisite liquor licenses for the special events from the Worcester County Board of License Commissioners (BLC).

For example, the town typically facilitates the acquisition of a license for its own events such as Springfest and Sunfest, for example, and local nonprofit groups handle the sales with all of the appropriate rules and regulations in place. In other cases, such as the Marlin Fest event associated with the White Marlin Open, the Ocean City Development Corporation (OCDC) acquires the license with approval from the BLC.

However, with the proliferation of larger privately promoted special events in the resort, for example the Oceans Calling music festival, or the OC Air Show, or the professional bull riding rodeo, a bill co-sponsored in the General Assembly by Senator Mary Beth Carozza and Delegate Wayne Hartman would create a specific Ocean City promoter’s liquor license for special events.

If approved, the bill would allow the county BLC to issue a temporary license to a for-profit promoter to sell beer, wine and liquor at specified special events. According to language in the bill, the event would have to be located within the corporate limits of Ocean City and on property owned by the town.

In order to be granted a promoter’s license, the event would have to be approved by the Mayor and Council. The BLC could limit the number of special event promoter’s liquor licenses issued each year. The BLC would also apply the same rigid standards before issuing a special event promoter’s license as it would for the issuance of any other liquor license, including strict security measures to prevent underage sales, for example, and all other requirements in terms of health and public safety. City Manager Terry McGean last week explained the catalyst for the proposed legislation was the proliferation of larger special events in town promoted and produced by for-profit groups.

“Currently, nonprofits working with an event apply for the license,” he said. “However, with larger events, for example Oceans Calling, this formula does not work, and the bill would allow the promoter to obtain the license directly from the Board of License Commissioners. In the case of city events, like Springfest and Sunfest, we would continue to work with the nonprofits and they would obtain the license.”

About The Author: Shawn Soper

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Shawn Soper has been with The Dispatch since 2000. He began as a staff writer covering various local government beats and general stories. His current positions include managing editor and sports editor. Growing up in Baltimore before moving to Ocean City full time three decades ago, Soper graduated from Loch Raven High School in 1981 and from Towson University in 1985 with degrees in mass communications with a journalism concentration and history.