Ocean City has been a dry town, by law, since 1984. That could change today.

From 6 a.m. to 8 p.m., Ocean City residents are heading to the polls to decide on an ordinance that would allow patrons to bring their own wine and beer into certain city restaurants. Boardwalk businesses would be excluded, and selling alcohol would still be prohibited. Also, BYOB would only be accepted between 2 and 11 p.m.

The issue has been the focus of a heated battle for several months.

Bill McGinnity, a BYOB advocate and owner of Cousin’s Restaurant in Ocean City, said while being a dry town is a tremendous strength for the city, not having the ability to bring wine or beer to dinner is outdated.

“We feel it will definitely help the entire community business-wise, more so in the shoulder seasons,” McGinnity said.

Currently, residents and tourists who want an adult beverage during out-of-the-house dinner are basically forced to leave the Cape May County resort town to do so.

McGinnity said a big reason to favor the change is the presence of choice. No restaurant would be forced to implement BYOB.

He added, “It enhances the offerings to the family. You can drink or you can not. You now have the choice. This is about choice.”

Andrew Fasy, chairman of the Committee to Preserve Ocean City, said his organization is not against BYOB for religious or political reasons. He said the change could negatively affect the image and identity of Ocean City that has cultivated over many years.

Fasy continued, “We built that reputation and identity, not despite the lack of BYOB, but directly because of the lack of BYOB.”

He said there’s no reason to make such a drastic change to a successful vacation destination.

Arguing that point, McGinnity said Disney sells alcohol at several parks, and it hasn’t stopped families from visiting Orlando.