A Prince George's County judge has ruled that punk rock bands may perform in College Park, despite the efforts of the county liquor board to ban their "frenzied hard rock manner" and offensive names from a popular tavern and the University of Maryland.
Circuit Court Judge Robert Woods said in an opinion issued late Tuesday that the liquor board should not have imposed restrictions on the Varsity Grill last spring banning loud rock bands, which, in board chairman Robert Miller's view, fomented "trouble defecating, urinating, and fornicating."
The board later announced that it would not grant one day liquor licenses to University of Maryland groups planning events with bands that the board considered "punk."
"Thank God this is not Iran," said Dave Zeiger, the manager of the Varsity Grill. "You better believe we are going to have punk groups back here, especially Root Boy Slim.
The liquor board commissioners particularly had objected to Root bOy Slim and his Sex Change Band.
"We don't really need to have punk rock here," said Leon Zeiger, the Varsity Grill's owner. "But what really concerned me was having the restrictions extended to the University of Maryland. With that kind of precedent, every campus in American could have been in jeopardy."
Miller could not be reached for comment yesterday.
The liquor board originally banned the rock groups from the Varsity Grill because of community complaints about rowdy youths congregating in a parking lot behind the tavern.
Liquor inspectors believed the music was the root of the trouble. "This type of music draws undesirables," said Jerry Kromash, the county's chief liquor inspector. "The citizens couldn't walk on the streets because of the abusive language."
The Zeigers argued, however, that the rock music had nothing to do with the youths in the parking lot and that the crowds and disruptions did not cease after punk rock was banned last May.
"We presented about 13 arguments to the court," Dave Zeiger said yesterday, "but we were mainly talking about freedom of speech and all that."
Judge Woods found that the board's ban on punk rock was arbitrary and "unsupported by a substantial credible evidence." The board's judgment of the quality of punk bands, the judge wrote in his opinion, was "unfair because it consists of pure opinion."
Judge Woods also overturned several other restrictions placed on the bar by the liquor board, including requirements that live entertainment end by 12:30 a.m. on weekends and that patrons use only one door.