Balto. Co. bill would require license for BYOB establishments

Baltimore County businesses that let customers bring their own alcohol would need a "BYOB" license under legislation spurred by complaints about hookah lounges that are raucous late into the night.

The bill, introduced Monday by Lutherville Republican Todd Huff, would make all BYOB establishments close by 2 a.m. The businesses would have to apply for licenses from the county and could face fines of up to $500 for not doing so.

Huff said he introduced the bill because of "multiple complaints" about hookah lounges that allegedly become loud very late and don't enforce laws on underage drinking.

Some hookah lounges, where patrons smoke flavored tobacco, are "very strict and careful on verifying and checking IDs," Huff said. But, "We have other establishments that aren't, in my opinion, being very responsible, which in turn gives the minors the ability to drink."

Requiring BYOB licenses would enable the county to act on those problems because businesses would have to follow the rules to keep their licenses, he said. Under the bill, the county's Department of Permits, Approvals and Inspections would inspect the establishments to ensure compliance and could deny, suspend or revoke licenses.

County restaurants that let their patrons bring alcohol currently need no license to do so.

Huff said he did not want to make it harder for small restaurants to allow their customers to bring drinks to have with their meals. The legislation doesn't specify a permit fee, but Huff said it would be "minimal" — likely between $25 and $50 a year.

Councilmen David Marks, a Perry Hall Republican, and Kenneth Oliver, a Randallstown Democrat, also sponsored the legislation, which is scheduled to be discussed this month and could be voted on in June.

Also Monday, Marks withdrew a measure that would have allowed mountain biking around the Loch Raven Reservoir, a Baltimore City-owned property in the county.

Recreational use of the land has been a source of dispute between the city and the county. Last week, County Attorney Mike Field told the council that the legislation might have no effect on how the city manages its property there. Marks said Monday he didn't have the support on the council to pass the bill.

In addition, the council unanimously approved a bill that will ban so-called panhandle lots in Parkville, Cub Hill and Carney. The bill was meant to control density, as such lots feature long driveways and are often used to jam additional construction onto lots that would typically include only one property.



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