Governor signs bill for separate liquor board County Council loses responsibility, but will still have veto power


It's official: The Howard County Council will have one less role this fall.

Gov. Parris N. Glendening signed into law yesterday a bill that creates a separate, appointed county liquor board. The council, which will still double as the zoning board, will retain veto power over the liquor board's decisions.

State Sen. Martin G. Madden, a Clarksville Republican who opposed the legislation until recently, said the council will be relieved of routine duties.

"We recognize that about 95 percent of what the liquor board does is license transfers and expansions and other noncontroversial stuff," Madden said. "But this still places the burden of controversial decisions on the elected officials."

The law requires each of the five council members to nominate three individuals from their districts for the board. The county executive will choose five nominees to fill the board.

The legislation goes into effect Oct. 1. The terms of each board member will be staggered so that a new member will be appointed each year.

Although pleased that the bill is law, Councilman C. Vernon Gray, an east Columbia Democrat, said the council is too busy to second-guess the board's decisions.

"If every case is going to be appealed to the council, then we're not free at all," Gray said. "I wanted to unhinge us totally from this responsibility."

Madden acknowledged the concerns.

"Not everyone is happy, and I recognize that," he said. "But we worked in good faith with everybody, and this is the best we could offer."

Pub Date: 5/22/98

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