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Reader’s Forum — 01-27-14

What’s the fascination with drinking booze on our city sidewalks?

Under ABC laws, “private clubs” qualify for ABC permits, but municipalities have been reluctant to extend “sidewalk drinking” (alcoholic beverages) due to their being considered “bars” and ” taverns.” Last year, I voiced my opposition to a revised ordinance to permit “private clubs” as opening Pandora’s Box. To the owners’ dismay, city council rejected their request.

Sidewalk dining is great for a coffee shop, bakery and restaurants as long as it doesn’t impede pedestrian traffic and create a nuisance. I am adamantly opposed at the audacity of two city employees’ continuous requests at City Council meetings for them to modify our current “sidewalk dining” ordinances to permit “sidewalk drinking” with eliminating the words “restaurant” and “food requirement” to accommodate and benefit an existing and future businesses. Outside alcohol sales without the elimination of these two restrictions will be problematic, difficult to control and could impede pedestrians navigating our sidewalks.

Based on my conversation with an Alcohol Law Enforcement supervisor regarding our proposed city ordinance elimination of these stipulations for selling “booze” on our sidewalks, they were extremely apprehensive and expressed a lot of reservations. Some of their objections focused on its inconsistency and incompliance with existing municipalities ordinances and state laws, etc.

Numerous ramifications could occur if City Council passes the revised “sidewalk drinking” ordinance. Legitimate and unsavory businesses meeting the state sidewalk requirements will apply, secure the ABC licenses, might open and close.

If you are against changing our existing “sidewalk dining” ordinance preventing our city from becoming a 21st-century Sodom and Gomorrah, then make plans to attend the next City Council meeting on Thursday, Feb. 6 at 7 p.m. at City Hall. Remember to invite your friends, neighbors, relatives, and church members to attend and make plans to speak out. You will need to arrive early and sign up to speak.

Robert A. Tomlinson


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