PALMETTO -- At the Palmetto City Commission workshop and meeting Monday, city commissioners continued to struggle with whether or not to allow the sale of alcohol on city property at this years 4th of July event at Sutton Park. There were a lot of questions about what doors might be opened, about where else and under what conditions the amendment might be used, and to what was and was not exempt.
Last month, the Rotary Club filed for a special use permit that would allow them to sell alcohol on city property for a one time event. The City would have to amend ordinance code, section 4.2 and 4.3, to allow alcohol sales on the streets and in the parks. City attorney Mark Barnebey said, "We could limit the amendment to just one or two events a year."
Commissioner Tambra Varnadore wanted to know how other cities like Bradenton handle events that have alcohol on public property. Varnadore also had concerns to the effects on other local businesses that would compete with the outside vendor. She said, "We are supposed to be supporting local vendors with CRA money, not taking (business) from them." Varnadore said she felt more research was needed.
When asked how law enforcement would handle on-premise alcohol, Chief Wells said, "On premises or off, we are equipped to handle both."
Commissioner Charles Smith said that three years ago he wouldn't have agreed, but that now he sees it differently, and would consider seeing how it goes.
Commissioner Tamara Cornwell also expressed concerns. "I have heard there were many issues in Bradenton, where things got out of control," said Cornwell. The commissioner also had concerns with how little distance there was between church grounds and the event. She said, "Why should we change the law for what otherwise is illegal," comparing it to the illegal use of drugs.
Palmetto has always had a long standing policy that kept alcohol from being sold in the parks. If the code was going to change, Commissioner Varnadore said she didn't want to see it rushed through in the 11th hour.
Mayor Shirley Grover Bryant said, "I would support the measure if the sales were confined to a designated area."
The city will now have to schedule a special meeting for the code change if the Rotary Club is to get its permit in time for the July 4th celebration. Meeting dates were set for June 25 and July 2, but a last minute decision may be too late for vendor preparations.
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