Berlin Officials Support Private Liquor Store Proposal - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Berlin Officials Support Private Liquor Store Proposal

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BERLIN, Md. - Town officials in Berlin support a proposal that would alter liquor regulations and expand options for the community in Worcester County. 
Elected leaders favor the idea of allowing privately-owned businesses to apply for a permit that would allow them to sell liquor within town limits. 

Worcester County's Department of Liquor Control, known as D.L.C,  owns or operates licensed facilities in the county. Liquor stores in Ocean City and West Ocean City are the exception.

Under the proposal, the change would require store owners to apply for a Class D license. That license permits the sale of beer, wine and liquor without food sales; however, there is one condition. The facility must be equipped with at least a 25-seat bar on-site.

The measure would require approval from the Worcester County Commission and then state legislators. Maryland Delegate Michael McDermott (R-38B) said the change would be good for business, but recognizes a few concerns. 

"The pros [are] greater availability and merchants, and I guess the cons would be the Liquor Control Board represents a revenue stream for the municipal government's store. If that changes, that revenue stream is certainly going to be different," said Delegate McDermott. "They'll [D.L.C.] probably have to find it [revenue] through other sources." 

According to the D.L.C's website, the county operates five retail stores and provides delivery service to 200 Licensees in Worcester County. At the end of each year, the profits are distributed among the county and go to all four municipalities. At this point, it's not clear if that would still be the case. 

Last year, the county moved one of its retail stores out of the main strip in Berlin. The new flagship store now sits along Route 50, past Stephen Decatur High School, just outside town limits. Some residents think the new location is inconvenient. Nancy Schafer, who lives in Berlin, understands why.

"I think having it limited here does make it hard for some people," said Schafer. "If you live in this facility, it's OK, but if you are not in this facility, you have to go out of your way." 

If the proposal advances to the county's commissioners and then the Maryland General Assembly, that could soon change. People in Berlin will have a few options on where to buy liquor in Worcester County. 

There are only four counties in the state of Maryland with a liquor control board. Wicomico, Somerset, Worcester and Montgomery counties are all regulated by local governments. 

Effective July 1, 2014, licensed liquor stores won't have to purchase its products from the county dispensary. Store owners will be allowed to purchase from wholesalers across the state of Maryland. 


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