Cumberland Times-News

Local News

January 15, 2014

Garrett commissioners seek liquor law changes

OAKLAND — The Garrett County Commission on Wed-nesday voted to ask state legislators to approve a referendum for both on- and off-premise liquor sales and to extend enterprise zone tax credits for Strata Safety Products LLC through the state Department of Business and Economic Development, according to Monty Pagenhardt, county administrator.

The commissioners also agreed to support Garrett Cooperative Ministry’s request for a $99,500 bond to go toward a $1.1 million new facility and a legislative request to modify the county code of ordinances to add a member-at-large to the salary study commission.

The commission also approved the Liquor Control Board’s requests to remove obsolete language in the statutes regarding wineries, a refillable container and a beer festival. Chairman Robert Gatto voted in opposition to all the Liquor Control Board’s legislative requests, according to Pagenhardt.

Numerous establishments have on-premise sales for alcoholic beverages and can sell an alcoholic beverage with a meal on Sunday between 1 and 10 p.m., and the vote would allow other establishments to do the same, according to Debbe Owston, administrator to the Garrett County Liquor Control Board.

“There are several precincts or election districts that can’t do that and they compete with the other establishments that can,” said Owston during a public prelegislative meeting in December. “We have had 0 complaints about Sunday sales in a restaurant with a meal. This is the first time the liquor board has proposed a referendum vote.”

The off-premise sales would allow package stores to sell take-out alcoholic beverages from 1 to 10 p.m.

Several owners of service stations voiced their support of Sunday sales during the prelegislative meeting.

The county requested an extension of the June 14 requirement for enterprise zone tax credits in order for Strata to qualify. The company would be required to have construction complete and an occupancy permit issued to qualify for the credits, according to Mike Koch, county director of economic development.

The county is working with Strata to construct a 12,000-square-foot steel-framed manufacturing facility on a five-acre parcel in the Keysers Ridge Business Park, and completion was slated for the end of this year. The delay in Strata moving into the park was caused by lengthy engineering, bidding and procurement processes, according to Koch.

Garrett Cooperative Ministry, doing business as Christian Crossings Thrift Shop, has more than $1 million, half of which is cash from operations, and $500,000 from a grant to go toward a new 10,200-square-foot building. The bond would help fund the remaining costs.

The Advisory Committee on Education, a group that held a seat on the salary study commission, has disbanded and would be replaced by the member-at-large, according to Pagenhardt. The county commission would appoint the new member.

Contact Elaine Blaisdell at eblaisdell@times-news.com.

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