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Alcohol ordinance draft finalized at city council workshop

The final changes were made to Minden’s alcohol ordinance at the City Council Workshop that was held Thursday afternoon. After going back and discussing the major changes that they were making regarding specific sections of the ordinance, the city council decided that they would be finalized on Friday and they will hold a Special Session on Tuesday, Feb. 11 at 5:30 p.m. to approve it.

Before diving into the ordinance, the Council had planned on discussing Dist. B’s Councilman Terika Williams-Walker’s proposed changes to the Employee Handbook.

Before the conversation started, one of Minden’s department heads explained that this was the first that they had seen any proposed changes, and asked that they wait and let them have a voice in the discussion, given that they would have to be the ones who will need to understand and live by it.

The council ultimately agreed to his request and will hold another meeting with some of the Department Heads on Feb. 19.

This discussion surrounding the alcohol ordinance got right to the point and discussed simply the major changes that were going to be taking place.

Two quick changes that were made with little resistance. One was adding “Gaming Locations” as one of the types of establishments that will follow the same alcohol sale hours as bars.

The other was changing a part of the definition of “premises” that referred to only low alcohol content being sold in premises when they thought it should include for low and high alcohol. 

While the section regarding proximity to churches, schools, etc. was brought up again, at first it was simply to remove a line of seemingly redundant text. While they did end up removing the text, Charles Minifield, the City Attorney still found himself with questions about the two different measurement systems for proximity, one of the main topics of discussion throughout the past few workshops.

Minifield explained that a  lot of places of business that will be grandfathered in were already measured using the walking tape measure, and given that he doesn’t believe that many more alcohol selling locations will come to Minden, he didn’t see a need to change it and asked why they felt the need to do so. 

Brent Cooley, the Building Official for the City of Minden, otherwise known as the person in charge of making all these measurements, explained that straight line measurement, or “as the crow flies,” is the simplest way to measure distances with the new technology. 

‘I think the old method is antiquated back before the GIS system and could accurately measure it. Could you imagine measuring as the crow flies through all the buildings and whatever else? It would be impossible on foot. Now that we have the technology, we can sit there, plug in two points, and it’ll say yes or no,” said Cooley.

Ultimately it seemed as though his explanation was sufficient, and they saw fit to leave the measuring to the straight-line method. 

Based on a recommendation from Michael Fluhr, in reference to ABO cards a piece was removed, that would’ve made it so every time an ABO card holder would have to “notify the police department of the name and address of the ABO employee cardholder,” according to the ordinance. 

Seeing as how getting in contact with the police is already a part of getting the ABO card, Micahel Fluhr made the point that it would just make more work for the Police Station without any real benefits.

After some lengthy discussion, his point was understood and they decided to take the text out.

The last major discussion was that of the no loitering signs. While some discussion was had debating the merits of letting store owners do what they want or why it would be a good thing to have the signs up, ultimately it became null and void one a member of the public brought the Council’s attention that “by law, you cannot force a store to put up a sign.” After hearing that, the Council decided to drop the issue.

The finalized copy was to be finished Friday and set out to the Council members, with a Special Session set for Tuesday, Feb. 11 at 5:30 p.m. in order to get the ordinance approved.