A resolution that would allow brewpubs in downtown Annapolis to seek an exemption to stay open until 2 a.m. was introduced at last night's city council meeting.
Since 1994, all new bars in downtown have been required to close at midnight.
But Alderman Michael W. Fox - sponsor of the legislation to amend the Ward 1 sector study - said he would put off introducing an accompanying ordinance to establish citywide zoning for brewpubs until after the Ward 1 issue is decided.
The legislation is expected to reignite a long-running dispute over bar closing times downtown. At last night's meeting, three Ward 1 residents asked the council to leave the midnight closing rule in effect.
Lee Aube told the council that allowing any more 2 a.m. closings would "disrupt the equilibrium" between residential and business interests downtown.
For years, historic district residents complained about noise generated by bars that stayed open until 2 a.m. After residents sued the city over approving a 2 a.m. closing time for Buddy's Crabs and Ribs on Main Street and won, a compromise was reached in 1994 to allow businesses with 2 a.m. liquor licenses to keep them but restricted new bars to midnight closings.
Fox said postponement of the zoning ordinance would allow Ward 1 residents to discuss the resolution about their ward first. He said he will request a public hearing on the resolution.