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Liquor Board begins issuing proper licenses

May 11, 2000|By LAURA ERNDE

The Washington County Liquor Board will begin issuing the proper licenses to nonprofit groups that want to serve alcohol at special events, its chairman said Thursday.

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It was unclear Thursday whether the Western Maryland Blues Fest would have to get a new license to serve beer at its popular downtown street festival June 3.

Chairman Donald L. Mellott said the board from now on will issue "picnic" licenses for Sunday events only, as the law states. It will issue another type of license for events on other days of the week.

The Blues Fest does not have the new type of license for its Saturday event.

Carl Disque, a Blues Fest founder, said Thursday night he did not know if the new license would be sought.

Even if it isn't, it may not matter since the enforcement authority is the Liquor Board, which issued the license, said Del. Robert A. McKee, R-Washington.

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"I don't want to see the Blues Fest hurt," he said.

McKee discovered the quirk in the law about two months ago while working with the Maryland General Assembly on proposed changes to the local liquor laws.

McKee notified the three-member Board of License Commissioners and gave them a copy of the Maryland Attorney General's Office opinion of the law.

But the Liquor Board decided to continue its long-standing practice of issuing picnic licenses for any day of the week.

The other "special Class C" licenses have additional requirements, including newspaper advertising. They also allow the sale of wine and hard liquor, while the picnic license allows only beer.

For at least 10 years, the Liquor Board has been issuing about 100 picnic licenses a year for all days of the week for adult softball league tournaments, festivals and political parties.

The law on Sunday-only picnic licenses dates back to 1965, according to the attorney general's office.

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