BYOB Defeated by a 2-1 Margin
Ocean City voters reject a bid to allow "Bring Your Own Bottle" restaurants in the dry town.
Voters went to the polls on Tuesday and sent a clear message: Don't change Ocean City.
In a 3,365 to 1,526 vote, Ocean City residents defeated a ballot question that asked voters if they want to change the local ordinance prohibiting "Bring Your Own Bottle" (BYOB) restaurants in the dry town.
The election results includes vote-by-mail ballots, but are not official until the City Clerk's Office certifies them. Click on the attached PDF to see a breakdown of votes by ward and district. To check for the latest updates, visit the city's website: ocnj.us/election.
The vote ends 16 months of passionate debate in Ocean City about the issue, and election night ended with two rivals shaking hands at City Hall.
Bill McGinnity, the chef and restaurant owner who spearheaded the BYOB initiative, congratulated Drew Fasy, the chairman of the political committee that opposed BYOB (the Committee to Preserve Ocean City).
Both men talked about leaving the divisive issue behind and moving forward together as a community.
McGinnity said he has no intention to make another push for BYOB, and with voters defeating the question by more than a 2-to-1 margin (69 percent to 31 percent), it doesn't appear that anybody would take up the cause any time soon.
In a statement to the media gathered in City Council Chambers at City Hall, where election results were posted, Mayor Jay Gillian thanked residents for voting, said he was happy to see Ocean City's brand as a family resort remain secure for future generations and said it's time to move on and get ready for the summer.
The election drew about 4,891 of Ocean City's approximately 9,000 registered voters, or about 54 percent. Click on the attached PDF to read the ordinance that was rejected.
It attracted news media from throughout the region with TV news trucks, newspaper photographers and radio reporters all converging on Ocean City polling places throughout the day to report on what could have been a big change for a resort with a century-old reputation as a dry town.
A group of restaurant owners first proposed the idea in January 2011 as a way to attract more year-round business to the summer resort — not just to their eateries but to nearby retail establishments suffering from the effects of a decade-long population decline.
From the start, the proposal met strong opposition from residents and business owners who like Ocean City the way it is: a dry town that has established a national reputation as "America's Greatest Family Resort." The resort was founded in 1879 as a Christian retreat and has banned the manufacture and sale of alcohol from the start.
BYOB petitioners gathered enough signatures to force a ballot question in the November 2011 election, but a court decision involving a different BYOB town led them to believe part of their proposed ordinance could be challenged. So they withdrew the petition and started again this winter.
The only ward that didn't defeat the question by a 2-to-1 margin was the Second Ward, home to Ocean City's downtown. Complete ward results are as follows: