Selbyville law may not be the right answer

Selbyville’s new bar and restaurant law, which states that alcohol may not be served after 11:30 p.m., is one bourne out of both a need to protect the town’s citizens and to re-establish the reputation of the town in general.

There have been several late-night fights both inside and outside of a few establishments over recent years, and the town council unanimously passed this law on April 2 with hopes of cutting down violent crimes. While the Town certainly hadn’t turned into the old “Wild West” by any means, it’s easy to see why the town council members acted the way they did, and it was with what we feel were the best of intentions when they acted.

However, we also see a few problems with the law, and several of them were pointed out in a letter we published in our May 4 edition that was written by Sean Oates, the owner of Murphy’s Bar & Grill, one of the businesses most affected by the new law.

For instance, Selbyville sits right on the border of Maryland, a state that does not require restaurants and bars to stop serving alcohol at 11:30 p.m. — instead allowing their businesses to serve until 2 a.m. That is a huge competitive advantage for the Maryland bars and restaurants, and a significant disadvantage to the ones located in Selbyville, particularly in the summer months when the entire area becomes more of a seven-nights-a-week party destination.

Another problem with the restriction is it could have a major impact on future growth in the town. If a national chain were to consider opening a location in Selbyville or another town in the area, would it be more likely to choose the town or unincorporated area that would allow it to better maximize revenue? Of course, it would. And those are tax dollars and jobs that Selbyville, and every other town in America, could certainly use during these tough economic times.

On the subject of jobs, these places have hired employees with the idea that they would be serving alcohol until 1 a.m. Those are hours that will be missing from people’s paychecks, and quite possibly could result in the loss of jobs down the road. Again, it’s a rough time out there to be passing laws that could impact people’s income.

One last problem we see with the law is the fact that we’re really not sure this will do anything of value. The problems, as we’ve seen them, have mostly come at closing time as groups of people make their way out the bars and into the parking lots. We’re not entirely sure it will matter if it’s 11:30 p.m. or 1 a.m. It’s still a lot of people leaving a place at once, and many of them are under the influence of alcohol.

Look, we are certainly not trashing the Selbyville Town Council over this decision. We believe it was done with only the best of intentions in mind, and we do applaud them for trying to figure out a way to stop a situation that has become problematic.

But we’re just not entirely sure this is the way to go, and we urge officials and business owners to work together to find a solution that will work for everybody.