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Task Force Considers Countywide Liquor Licenses

Plan would phase out requirements that keep licenses anchored in individual districts.

A system of liquor licenses once called archaic by County Executive Kevin Kamenetz could be phased out over 20 years.

A plan being considered this morning by a could eventually change some population restrictions that limit the number of licenses in each of the county's 15 districts.

The proposal includes:

  • Allowing the transfer of liquor licenses out of the Essex and Middle River area, where there is a glut of licenses, over the next three fiscal years. The change would allow the transfer of three licenses per district per year to any other district and lift the population restrictions on licenses. That would allow areas to have as many as 25 percent more licenses than allowed under the current law. The change could permit the transfer of as many as 47 licenses over three years to site specific projects.
  • in each of the next three fiscal years beginning in July 2012. The licenses would be restricted to revitalization districts with a cap on one per district. License holders would be required to make 70 percent of their money on the sale of food, have seating for 12 to 100 people and sell only bottled beer and wine.
  • Between 2015 and 2021, the county would systematically decrease the popultion requirements on licenses, allowing for the creation of more licenses. Existing license holders would still be allowed to transfer their licenses.
  • Beginning in 2012 and running through 2031, the county would continue to phase out population requirements, making them countywide rather than based on individual election districts. Existing license holders would be able to transfer their licenses any where in the county.

Mike Mohler, co-chair of the task force and chief administrator of the county liquor board, said the plan could help spur economic development.

He cautioned that though these points were developed in consultation with the county Licensed Beverage Association, the two sides were not in complete agreement.

A point agreed with by Jack Milani, who is representing the interest of license holders on the task force.

The group is expected to hold a lengthy discussion on the plan this morning in an effort to develop a draft report containing the task force's recommendations.

That report is due to Kamenetz by Nov. 15 and could be the blueprint for legislative action in Annapolis in January.

Any changes to county liquor license law requires the approval of the General Assembly and governor.

Mike Pierce October 21, 2011 at 12:25 AM
I'll bet all the existing license holders are going to oppose any such plan, since it will reduce the value of the licenses they already have. Personally, I think it is bizarre that every restaurant that makes most of its money from serving food is not automatically entitled to a license to serve beer and wine. Also, I was shocked to find that a local restaurant that did manage to get one of the limited licenses a couple years ago is now allowed to sell unopened bottles of beer and wine, even on Sundays, to any one who walks in, not just those dining there. Where ever did that crazy license come from? Please fix that!
Dkennylee October 21, 2011 at 04:07 PM
Leave well enough alone bars and restaurants are taking hits bad from smoking band as it is. They dont need corps in the bar biz. Thats why these licences were issued like they are to keep the market fair
Keith Baird Scott October 21, 2011 at 06:56 PM
REVISING ALCOHOL BEVERAGE LAWS The Baltimore County Chamber applauds County Executive Kevin Kamenetz’s establishment of a task force to study antiquated liquor laws. Restaurants can have a significant economic impact on an area and all need a viable liquor license. The existing system has created false value and has distorted normal market forces. Both large national chains and small entrepreneurs complain about lack of access to liquor licenses, which creates a barrier to new establishments. This is not how a market economy should operate. We hope that the task force will prompt the state’s General Assembly to change Maryland’s system and allow market forces to operate normally.

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