Damascus to vote on whether to stay dry and prohibit alcohol sales
By John Henrehan, FOX 5 Reporter
DAMASCUS, Md. -
Voters in Maryland will be deciding no less than seven issues by referendum in November -- everything from gay marriage to the legislature's redistricting plan.
Voters in Montgomery County will decide two issues: rules for county government for hiring the disabled, and police bargaining rights.
And then there's Damascus. The issue there is very simple: should restaurants be allowed to serve beer and wine?
Damascus, Maryland is a different kind of place. Even though it's located in cosmopolitan Montgomery County, and its commercial district is generally bustling, just a few blocks away there is still a small farm field where corn is being raised. The old "Druid" movie theater building in Damascus, which was once a video store, has lately become a Rite Aid pharmacy.
But, not everything changes in Damascus. It is still the only place in Montgomery County which is "dry", as in: no alcohol is sold here, period. There are restaurants, but none selling beer or wine.
"I feel that Damascus has a very hometown feeling to it," explained Tara Owens. "If we allow the alcohol to come in, that it's going to have a lot of chain restaurants come in. And I think it's just going to lose that special feeling that it's had for so many years."
"We're from the country, and we like it that way," declared long-time Damascus resident Bob Patton. "And we can do without the fancy restaurants. If we want the fancy restaurants, we can [go] someplace else."
But there are those in Damascus who are ready for beer and wine with a meal, and they're asking voters to say "yes" to Question C on the ballot in November. "I think we should open it up. I'm ready to do that," said Nichole Reinhold. "I think it'll be nice to have someplace to go, sit down, and have a drink."
Some residents believe the lack of alcohol has actually killed restaurants in Damascus. Bob Heflin, Sr. recalls an Italian eatery opened up some years ago, but lasted only a year or two before going out of business.
Sabrina Esposito is still undecided on whether Damascus should be wet or dry. "It's definitely a lot safer [without alcohol sales]," declared Ms. Esposito, a mother of three. "You know, we don't see too many accidents. The kids are responsible... But, at the same time, at the end of a day, I would like a glass of wine here and there, and I would like one very close. So, I have very mixed feelings about it."
Ms. Esposito will have to make up her mind by November 6th. That's when Question C, in Damascus, will be on the ballot. A "yes" vote on C means yes to beer and wine in restaurants. A "no" vote keeps Damascus dry.