The matter also will go before the City Council at its regular meeting Thursday, when the council could - but likely will not - enact the measure into law without consulting voters. A more likely scenario is a "no" vote, automatically moving the measure to the May municipal-election ballot, said Council President Mike Allegretto.
While council members have opposed BYOB in Ocean City, he said, they do agree voters should weigh in on the question.
Allegretto did not expect the council to decline to act Thursday, which would force BYOB proponents into a waiting period that could delay the submission of the petition to the county beyond the deadline to print ballots for the May election.
"Nobody on council is in favor of BYOB, but I think it's our duty to allow voters to have their say," Allegretto said.
The BYOB question has been dogging officials for decades in this Cape May County resort, a "dry" town since it was founded in the 1880s as a Methodist summer retreat. There are no bars, taverns, or liquor stores.
When diners carrying alcoholic beverages into non-licensed eateries became a common practice elsewhere in the 1980s, Ocean City officials reiterated the town's dry stance by enacting an ordinance that gave local police the power to write summonses against those who tried to defy local custom.
Last fall, BYOB proponents - mostly restaurant owners looking to drum up business in a tough economy - garnered enough signatures to have the question placed before voters. But at the last minute, the question was pulled from the November ballot to avoid possible court challenges over wording about the specific amount of alcohol that would be allowed.
The latest proposal places no limit on the amount of beer or wine that can be carried in.
Avoiding ambiguity this time around, proponents say they also have reworked the proposal to remove the boardwalk as a location allowing BYOB, said Bill McGinnity, vice president of the Ocean City Restaurant Association, which led the effort to get BYOB on the ballot.
"There seemed to be an outcry among some residents . . . people who were otherwise in favor of BYOB here, that they just didn't want to see alcohol on the boardwalk. So we were sensitive to that this time around," said McGinnity, who owns Cousins Restaurant in the 100 block of Asbury Avenue.
If the question makes it to the May 8 ballot and voters approve it, restaurant patrons could begin bringing in beer or wine within 20 days of the election.
Contact staff writer Jacqueline L. Urgo at 609-652-8382 or firstname.lastname@example.org.