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Letter to Editor: BYOB Is Not the Highway to Hell

Ocean City resident Eric Sauder argues that there is 'no rational basis' for some 'no BYOB' statements.

To the editor:

Hey, if I were a Methodist minister living at the turn of the 20th century, I, too, might have invested in Ocean City simply because it is a “dry town.” I don’t doubt for a minute that there are people today who invest in Ocean City because it does not have bars and clubs and liquor stores. That does make it unique. Quite frankly I (like most other BYOB supporters) would like to see it stay that way. But whatever happens with the BYOB ordinance, Ocean City will remain a “dry town.” There will be no bars, clubs or liquor stores. It will keep its “brand.” It will still be unique among the shore towns. To claim that BYOB will turn Ocean City into another Wildwood (which allows liquor sales) appeals to fear. There is no rational basis for such a statement.

If these people feel that the public consumption of alcohol in Ocean City will be a detriment to the wholesome family image, why are they not petitioning to do away with Night in Venice? Is that not a public event? Has the booze bash kept people from coming to this island? Investing in this island? Has it adversely affected property values? What about the prohibition (still apparently on the books) against showing flesh in public? If we want to revert to the vision of the Methodists ministers, don’t we need to do something about the unnatural perversion of wearing revealing bathing suits? Reinstate the blue laws. Let’s be consistent with that vision.

The statement that BYOB will “be detrimental to the business community” is a curious one. How it is that keeping people on the island for dinner will be detrimental to our economy? Ocean City is not free of alcohol. It has an abundance of alcohol and has largely remained free of “rowdiness.” I suppose some of that has to do with the ratio of police to the number of tourists in the summer and to residents in the winter. There were times I had at least a few assigned just to me. Is it a surprise that having trendy restaurants isn’t valued highly by the people who come here? If those people valued trendy restaurants why would they come here in the first place? Besides which, most of them dine off the island. Is it a surprise then that the survey revealed this? 

I could go on and on with this. If BYOB doesn’t work, it can be repealed in three years. There is no proof that BYOB will harm the town (either). In regard to making suppositions without facts, the anti-BYOB group is the chief offender.  Where is the correlation between Ocean City’s property values and BYOB (for example)?  I do think, in part, the stress on our business community is related to the loss of residents. What are we going to do about it? Keep sending what business we do have across the bay? Keep tearing down commercial for vacation homes?

I know John Flood believes in the supremacy of city government in making decisions for the people of this town. If you’ve lived here for any length of time, you can clearly see the effects of that supremacy. Do you feel Ocean City is a better place to live than it was a decade or two ago? The statement that BYOB will be a gateway to permitting full liquor licenses is nothing but a fear tactic.  It won’t happen, because: 1) The people of this town don’t want it, and 2) City government doesn’t want it (and would have to apply for liquor license), and 3) Even if the sky falls and those two things were to happen, the population of this town would qualify it for ONE (1) liquor license. No, people, we’re not on the highway to hell with BYOB. I don’t really care what Rutherford did or Collingswood did. This is a vastly different town. This is about what is good (or not good) for Ocean City.

I do agree with one thing. People make a successful community. We need LEADERS in government to address the declining population and the loss of business. We need people in government that will advocate for this community and not just for real estate development and tourism. The BYOB issue pales in importance to the ward elections. The government you chose will determine the course of Ocean City in the future. Do you feel we’re on the right path? Go educate yourself. Ask the hard questions. And get out there and vote.

Eric Sauder,
Ocean City 

Eric Sauder April 23, 2012 at 02:01 AM
Agreed Jim.
Joanne April 23, 2012 at 11:52 AM
You repeatedly ask this question and it makes no sense. If as you claim, you have studied this ordinance you are well aware that verbage is not included in the ordinance. Nor does it specify the color of the reguired table coverings! Neither makes it flawed. More importantly , why would you want to pay the extreme prices for beach front real estate to open a restaurant so you could allow people to bring in their own wine and beer? There are plenty of empty stores and restaurants in the downtown area. That is the whole idea to eventually develop a vibrant restaurant scene to attract people to shop in our downtown stores after 5 pm. The people spoke up and said they didn't want it on the Boardwalk. We listened!
Joanne April 23, 2012 at 12:00 PM
Spleen venting? This has become a general platform where the Pro BYOB people can specifically correct the mis-information and twsted facts deliberately being put out to convince people that BYOB is an evil that will ruin our town. People need the truth to be told so they can accurately weigh the facts and then make the decision that is right for them on election day!
Eric Sauder April 23, 2012 at 12:27 PM
Joanne makes a good point. The boardwalk is doing fine (at least in the summer). But the downtown is all but deserted, especially in the evening. It can carve out its own niche. It doesn't need to compete with the boardwalk. It can offer dinning and shopping and entertainment, much as the mall area of Cape May, and become a destination of its own. The revitalization of of the downtown area can help extend the season. And people will be more inclined (I think) to gravitate to the downtown than they will to the boardwalk in the winter. BYOB in and of itself will not make all that happen, but we're going to have a heck of a time attracting dinning etsablishments to the downtown if a large percentage of the dinning clientele is eliminated. I'm serious about revitalizing the downtown. But its going to take a commitment by our government officials to bring it to fruition. This is a ctizen's movement. We're doing what we can. Now we have to get people on city government to do what they can, or elect people to city government who will. My apologies to noBYOB for losing my patience.
steve fenichel April 24, 2012 at 12:21 AM
On this thread there was a comment that was directed at Mr. Eric Sauder that was ugly: "some people just make up Sh.t ..... Or as some say do not let the facts get in the way of a good story or its my lie and I'll make it as big as I want ... the pro BYOB mantra".Mr. Sauder is a person of the highest integrity who was the target of police intimidation.He is a man of impeccable character and speaks only the truth. Our community should be honored to have him in our midsts. Steven Fenichel, MD

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