The Board of Liquor License Commissioners for Baltimore County has issued new Rules and Regulations.
Liquor board Rules are of great import and govern the issuance of an alcoholic beverage license as well as the day to day operations of a business selling alcoholic beverages. While hyper technical in nature, Board Rules have the force of law and a violation of a Rule can result in civil penalties and ultimately suspension or revocation of an alcoholic beverage license.
Maryland Annotated Code, Alcoholic Beverages Article, Section 13-207 provides, the Baltimore County Board may adopt Rules to carry out the State law, including rules regarding:
- the presence on a licensed premises of an individual who is not a consumer; and
- the issuance of a license when the actual use of the license is to be deferred until the completion of construction or alterations on the premises.
There are substantially the same enabling laws across the state and those code sections require public notice and a public hearing before adoption the Rules.
In March of this year, our blog post Baltimore County to Adopt New Liquor Licensee Rules described the drafting and public hearing for the now final Rules. There are significant changes from the earlier draft. Deleted from the final Rules is the proposal that licensed premises have a video camera system.
Added to that draft is the now new Rule 39 implementing the new State law that authorizes the sale of draft beer in non-refillable growlers. This is a significant new opportunity for licensees, and it particular restaurants that otherwise do not have an ability to sell beer (.. including taking advantage of the growth in craft beers) for off premises consumption.
The new Rules are a great clean up of the last version promulgated in 2014, including ‘keeping pace with the times’ by expressly authorizing notice of certain hearings to be posted on the Board’s website. But there are still vestiges of the past in this new document, including a fun regulation that a “licensee may not use or permit to be used or dispensed on the licensed premises any violent emetics or purgatives” (.. you will have to Google that).
And there are a host of substantive changes that create more and additional economic opportunity arising from the sale of alcoholic beverages in the County. There are changes to Rule 19, including the all important “exception licenses” (i.e., exceptions to the limitations on the number of licenses by population with an election district). For example, the new provisions requires,
Office buildings having a minimum of sixty thousand (60,000) square feet of leased commercial office space provided that each such building shall be limited to one (1) Class B (On Sale) beer, wine and liquor license.
.. a more generous provision than the prior Rule that required a 75,000 square feet office building. And there are other similar more economic opportunity friendly changes like reducing the minimum size of a shopping center from 500,000 square feet to 400,000 square feet for an exception Class A off premises sales license.
The new Rules will advance the alcoholic beverage industrial complex in Baltimore County. All licensees should read the June 2017 Rules.