Request to sell liquor on Smith Island rejected

June 23, 1994|By William Thompson | William Thompson,Eastern Shore Bureau of The Sun

PRINCESS ANNE -- Smith Island's 387-year-old taboo on the sale of alcohol will remain intact at least a little while longer.

Ewell store owner Charles B. Evans' application for a permit to sell carryout beer and wine was rejected last night by the Somerset County Board of License Commissioners for the second time in eight years.

Citing opposition by island residents and the inability of police to reach the island quickly, panel members Van B. Muir and Howard L. Riggin said they were unable to support Mr. Evans' application.

The vote followed a 90-minute public hearing here that drew 125 islanders to the mainland.

Mr. Evans, 50, said he needed the license to help stabilize his small business on the island of about 420 people.

Pleading for a chance to be the first merchant in the island's history to sell alcohol legally, Mr. Evans said he would return the license if beer and wine consumption caused problems.

"I'd turn in the license myself," he said. "Nobody would have to take it away."

Although no law prohibits the sale of alcohol on the Chesapeake Bay island, residents of three small villages traditionally have used their Methodist Church upbringing as a defense against legally sanctioning the sale of intoxicants.

Last night, islanders warned that alcohol sales could lead to underage drinking and other related problems.

"If you grant this license, grant us law [enforcement] 24 hours a day," said alcohol opponent Elmer Evans.

Smith Island, 12 miles off the Somerset County mainland, has no full-time police presence.

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