Wow, this is an emotional issue, but it isn't obvious to me how allowing people to bring alcohol to Ocean City restaurants will lead to the sale of alcohol in the city or to bars and clubs popping up all over the island.

I like Ocean City as it is. I don't want bars in Ocean City. I don't want liquor stores. And I don't hear anyone advocating for them.

What is being proposed is allowing people to take a bottle of wine or beer to a restaurant for consumption with dinner. So can we drop the fear tactics and take a rational approach to this?

People consume alcohol in Ocean City now, and they've been doing so for longer than any of us can remember.

What allowing BYOB will do is put our restaurants on an even footing with restaurants that either serve alcohol, or, like the Clam Bar in Somers Point, provide for BYOB. If Ocean City allowed BYOB, those of us who enjoy having a drink with dinner would be more inclined to patronize Ocean City's restaurants instead of going across the bay to eat.

Our restaurants are at a competitive disadvantage. So were our merchants at one time. When the blue laws were revoked, the sky didn't fall. The character of the city didn't change.

Suppose there was a place to eat in Ocean City like the Clam Bar with BYOB. What would be so bad about it? How would it change Ocean City for the worse? Is there some kind of rowdy element that patronizes the Clam Bar that we don't want in Ocean City?

Would allowing BYOB lead to open consumption of alcohol? Not if we enforce open-container laws to prevent consumption of alcohol in public, going to or from a restaurant.

Would it lead to an increase in drunken driving? If anything, people will drive less. Many will walk or take the jitney to their destination and at the very least won't be driving home from the mainland after consuming alcohol.

The irony is that people now take alcohol with them to Ocean City's restaurants. They go up on the Boardwalk, to the beaches, and they walk around in public with it. They simply consume it elsewhere. So what exactly will defeating BYOB prevent?

I like Ocean City as it is. I don't want liquor stores or bars on the island. But I do feel our restaurants should be given a fair chance to compete. It seems to me that the only significant outcome of the vote either way comes down to where people ultimately go to eat. Why not Ocean City?

ERIC SAUDER

Ocean City