Chambersburg officials mull regulating BYOB

September 17, 2012|By JENNIFER FITCH |

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. — Borough of Chambersburg officials and business owners debated the merits of proposed Bring Your Own Bottle (BYOB) regulations during a special meeting Monday.

Chambersburg Police Chief David Arnold and Mayor Pete Lagiovane are driving an initiative to control BYOB establishments that are a nuisance. When explaining his desire for a new ordinance, Arnold listed problems like noise, people urinating in public and disorderly conduct incidents.

BYOB has been a standard practice at restaurants for years, but now there are clubs that offer BYOB without serving food, Lagiovane said.

Any borough business can offer a BYOB option to patrons.

“They cannot sell alcohol because they do not have a (state) license, but they can still create a nuisance,” Lagiovane said.

Without a local ordinance, the borough is limited in its ability to ensure the club-type businesses are not troublesome, Lagiovane said.

“We wanted to design it in a way that does not affect existing restaurants,” he said.

“When you eliminate food and have people coming in with their alcohol, you have more of a club,” Arnold said.

Existing businesses that would be affected include not only clubs, but established restaurants like Cafe d’Italia, Montezuma, Norland Grille and Tito’s Tacos. Some business owners choose to offer BYOB because Pennsylvania’s liquor licenses are limited, tightly regulated and pricey when sold privately.

The Chambersburg Borough Council will decide whether to pass, amend or reject the proposed ordinance. Included in the latest draft are provisions that:

  • Prohibit alcohol consumption between 11 p.m. and 11 a.m.
  • Restrict entertainers from coming into contact with patrons
  • Require BYOB businesses to obtain a permit
  • Require BYOB businesses to carry insurance

Borough officials said they want to create a tool for enforcement, while not burdening business owners. They said they could fine or deny permits for businesses in violation for repeated offenses.

“I think the least amount of regulation you can do, the better. The intent of this is not to close a restaurant that wants to do BYOB,” Arnold said.

Joan Smith from Hot Java Coffee Shop speculated that would be exactly what would happen to her.
“This will wipe me out,” she said.

Businesses have enough regulations, licenses and fees with which to contend, Smith said.

“I’m tired of business owners being responsible for someone else’s stupidity,” she said.

Borough Manager Jeffrey Stonehill asked Smith if she would be more comfortable with the ordinance if it did not carry fees or the insurance provision. She said she would.

“It’s not about money,” Arnold said. “It’s about regulation.”

Stonehill encouraged businesspeople to share their opinions about the proposals with council members.

A draft ordinance is posted at Click on “documents,” scroll down to “proposed ordinances” and select “BYOB.”

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