OCEAN CITY, NJ (CBS) – A bid to allow patrons of Ocean City restaurants to bring their own beer and wine to the table has sparked a bitter debate in the Jersey shore town. At issue is whether to allow residents to vote on the idea in November (see related story).

Proponents have ten more days to gather the necessary 747 local signatures on a petition. Local restaurateur Bill McGinnity suggests the town’s largest religious organization, the Ocean City Tabernacle, is trying hard to stop them in their tracks.

“The Tabernacle has posted to the web site to, basically, do not sign the petition and allow it to go to a vote.”

McGinnity, suggests the pressure tactics are having an effect, “People have said that I will vote yes for this, but I am fearful of putting my name on a petition.”

He says the Tabernacle has called for a boycott of businesses that support the referendum, a contention Tabernacle President Richard Stanislaw denies, ‘We’ve encouraged them when they eat out at a restaurant to express their concern that it not come.”

Proponents say all they want is to bring the question to a vote. Stanislaw has an answer for that: “The people here have already voted. They voted when they bought here. They knew what the place was like when they came.”

His group has distributed some 2,000 lawn signs that state simply, “Don’t change Ocean City.”

Reported by David Madden, KYW Newsradio 1060

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