Takoma Park votes to allow carryout beer and wine sales; state has final say

By Steve Hendrix
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, September 28, 2010; 10:54 PM

The Takoma Park Town Council has voted to eliminate most of the Maryland suburb's century-old ban on carryout alcohol sales. If the change is approved by the legislature, local restaurants would be able for the first time to apply for a license to sell beer and wine for customers to take away.

But the council, citing concerns about public drinking and loitering, stopped short of allowing other retailers, notably convenience stores and wine shops in the historic downtown business quarter, to sell alcoholic beverages. The popular Takoma Park-Silver Co-Op, which had expressed interest in selling organic beer and wine, will not be eligible, according to the plan approved Monday.

"They may come back in a future year and expand it again, but for now they want to start slowly," said Deputy City Manager Suzanne Ludlow. Hard-liquor sales, which in Montgomery County are restricted to county-owned package stores, would not be not affected by the proposed change.

The council voted 5 to 1 to remove one of the last vestiges of the influence of the Seventh-Day Adventist Church, which located in Takoma Park in 1903 in part because it was a dry town. But the church's presence has waned since it moved its world headquarters to Silver Spring and Adventists settled in outlying neighborhoods. The town, which allowed restaurants to serve alcohol in 1983, heard only limited opposition to the latest move.

New licenses would be administered by the county, but the council is seeking a voice in approvals to maintain some authority over alcohol sales. The General Assembly typically approves local governments' requests for changes in alcohol regulations, but the request for a local veto could prove more controversial.

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