SNOW HILL — Concerns over the potential for public disruption didn’t stop two Ocean City businesses from receiving temporary expansions to their operations at August’s Board of License Commissioners (BLC) meeting. However, those concerns did lead to the imposition of unexpected limits.
The BLC this month granted approval for two temporary expansions to Ocean City businesses’ alcohol licenses for this fall.
The Tap House and OC Steamers at 4507 Coastal Highway appeared before the commission first in a joint meeting attempting to expand their license premises into their parking lot, which would allow them to serve alcohol outside for Bike Week during Sept. 13-16, followed by Oktoberfest the next month.
Ocean City Police Department (OCPD) Lt. Scott Harner told the commission that his department opposes the license expansion for Bike Week.
“The public’s need is [already] well served,” he said.
There have already been a number of fatalities on Coastal Highway this summer, Harner reminded the BLC, and the OCPD is “taxed and troubled” by crowds and traffic in the resort on any given weekend. By expanding another license into its parking lot for Bike Week, Harner said issues could ensue.
Tap House General Manager Jeff Burton explained that the restaurant is expecting a hectic weekend for Bike Week, but allowing alcohol in the parking lot will free up space inside so people can actually have a sit down dinner, which was an issue last year. Burton also reminded the BLC that other area businesses have already been approved for expansions during Bike Week.
Eventually, the board agreed to approve the expansion with a few minor conditions, including that a tiki bar at the location not be utilized in addition to the parking lot drinking. The applicant’s bid for Oktoberfest approval was swifter, with the BLC only stipulating that minors not be allowed into the festival area. Burton had originally planned to allow them in but only serve people who have shown proper ID.
The second business, de Lazy Lizard on 1st Street, came in requesting an expansion not of their capacity to serve alcohol but the entertainment they can feature for a single night on Sept. 22. Attorney Hugh Cropper, who represented the establishment, informed the board the restaurant plans on hosting a charity music event this fall called “Autism Rocks.”
“This is a one-day event to benefit autism,” he said.
Set to feature several bands, Autism Rocks would be a closed event where the charity would keep 100 percent of the proceeds from ticket sales while the business would keep food and beverage sales. Cropper explained that, in the interest of providing as good of a show possible, de Lazy Lizard would like to expand the number of pieces they can have for music from four to five for Sept. 22, as well as seek permission to have live music outside from noon until midnight.
Cropper reminded the commissioners that no noise violations or complaints have been received this summer, but the BLC pointed out that wasn’t true. A noise complaint was registered against the Lizard on July 15 at 1:35 a.m. alleging loud DJ music. Neither Cropper nor Lizard co-owner Todd Hayes were be aware of the complaint.
“We need to go talk to the manager,” said Cropper, who added that there was “no excuse.”
“It’s certainly unacceptable to us,” said BLC Chair William Esham. “It has to be.”
The board decided on a compromise, granting Lizard the expansion to a five-piece band for the night until midnight. Until 6 p.m., music can be inside or outside, said Esham, and the Lizard can have a second five-piece band operating simultaneously, though only until the 6 p.m. limit.