Three came from the Frederick County Liquor Board.
Frederick, Md (KM). Three pieces of legislation from the Frederick County Liquor Board were presented to the Delegation during a public hearing on Saturday afternoon. One would reduce the number of seats a restaurant needs to have in order to obtain a license to serve alcoholic beverages. Currently, these establishments need 50 seats, but this legislation would reduce that to 28. “Businesses that you all know downtown Frederick that licenses will not convey,” says Liquor Board Chairman Jesse Pippy. “After 40 years being in business, to sell their business, the next person would not be able to get a liquor license in that same building. That’s an issue.”
He says even if a restaurant has 50 or more seats, it may not pass muster with the Fire Marshal’s Office because the seats would need to placed in a certain way in the establishment.. “So reducing this down to 28, you’re going to create an opportunity all throughout the county for people to come and open restaurants, if they choose to. You’re also going to be protecting many existing businesses. And we do have the support of the Frederick County Fire Marshal on this legislation as well.”
Another bill would set up an arena license so colleges and universities could sell alcohol during a sporting or other event. Pippy says this could benefit Mount Saint Mary’s University which has an NCAA Division One basketball team. But several lawmakers raised concerns about too much drinking, intoxication and security at the these events. “Our caterer, Aramark, is very attuned to it, and they are a control point for this. At any events where we’ve had these special events or day-by-day events, the caterer is involved with this. They’re very well trained on that,” says Joe Lebherz with the Mount. “And I also spoke with public safety. There’s been no incidents. They are at these events where there would be any beer sales, and they’re very comfortable moving forward.”
Lebherz also says these events will be held at the eastern end of the campus at the Knott Arena.
In the past, Pippy says Mount Saint Mary’s had a liquor license, but not any longer. Right, now the Liquor Board issues special liquor licenses to the Mount.
Board member Rick Stup says it wouldn’t just be for Mount Saint Mary’s University. He says Hood College and Frederick Community College could also apply for an arena license.
A third bill would eliminate the requirement that anyone who wants to set up a banquet hall and serve alcoholic beverages needs to provide an additional $250,000 investment in their facilitie4s. Pippy says eliminating that regulation would also create more opportunities for business people to open up banquet halls.
In addition, the Delegation heard from a representative of Crossroads Freedom Center, a faith-based residential program to help men recover from their addictions. Maria Tarasuk, who is co-Executive Director with her husband, Joe, says the non-profit is seeking a $80,000 bond bill to install a sprinkler system within a residential building on the 16-acre property in Ijamsville. She says this will allow Crossroads to expand it facilities to serve 25 men. Right now, it can only handle eight.
“We’ve done as much of the renovation as we can to date on that upstairs portion, including replacing all the electrical wiring, installing new windows and beginning limited framing for the new rooms,” says said. “At this point in our process, there’s not much more we can do until we tackle perhaps the largest single expense, and that’s installing the sprinkler system.”
The property which Crossroads Freedom Center occupies was once Gabriel’s Inn and Restaurant, and before that, it as the Riggs Sanitarium. The buildings were constructed during the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
Prior to the hearing, there was a change at the top of the Frederick County Legislative Delegation. Lawmakers unanimously picked Delegate William Folden as their new chairman. “Thank you all. It’s an honor to serve in this capacity,” was Folden’s response. “I look forward to a challenging but a successful time in Annapolis.”
He replaces Delegate Kathy Afzali, who had served as the chair for the past three years. During that time, she said the Delegation was very effective. “We brought back more dollars to Frederick County than any delegation ever. We’ve passed more pieces of legislation. And when we work together, we are a fierce team. So I just want to thank each and every one of you for having the opportunity to serve as your chair.”
Afzali says she will not seek re-election as a delegate. Instead, she will be running for County Executive in 2018.
State Senator Michael Hough was voted in as Vice Chairman.
The 2018 Maryland General Assembly convenes for its 90-day session on Wednesday, January 10th.
By Kevin McManus