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City Council: Alcohol ordinance discussion continued

by Will Phillips

A city alcohol ordinance was the primary topic of discussion at the Minden City Council Workshop that was held Wednesday afternoon. The council did discuss the items that will be on the agenda for the Feb. City Council meeting, though the only other real significant change adding the item of the Mayor’s Letter of Veto to this agenda. 

The veto was in regard to the councils decision, at the January council meeting, to have the memorial sign at the REC Center taken down within 72 hours. In his Letter of Veto, Gardner stated that the reasons for the veto were as follows:

“There is community support across the city to leave the sign in place which was the 

result of a donation made to the Minden Rec Booster Club, Inc, the ownership of the sign and fencing at the Minden Recreation Complex Football/Soccer fields is unclear, it was not determined who will be responsible for removing the sign, it was not determined where the funding to remove the sign would come from, the fencing provides security for the children and protection of the field from animal destruction, the donor of the sign and fencing expects full reimbursement of $41,000.00 if the sign and fencing are removed,” the letter of veto read.

This item is put on the agenda will give the Council the opportunity to either uphold or overturn the veto. 

The rest of the discussion mainly focused on the alcohol ordinance, with the council going through each section one by one to see if there were any more changes that they would like to make that weren’t brought up in the past two meetings. 

The final chosen times for the hours during which alcohol cannot be sold are as follows. For convenience stores and gas/petrol stations, alcohol cannot be sold from the hours of 11:01 p.m. to 6:59 a.m. Monday through Saturday, and 11:01 p.m. to 11:59 a.m. on Sunday. 

For restaurant establishments and bars, alcohol cannot be sold between the hours of 2:01 a.m. and 10:59 a.m. Monday through Saturday, and 10:01 p.m. to 11:59 a.m. on Sunday.

For package houses, alcohol cannot be sold between the hours of 12:01 a.m. to 6:59 a.m. Monday through Saturday and 10:01 p.m. to 11:59 a.m. on Sundays.

Before the meeting, the time that convenience stores and gas stations had to stop selling alcohol was 10:01 p.m. A few local business owners were present at the meeting and voiced the complaint of having to stop selling alcohol before other types of businesses. 

After some discussion, the business owners convinced the Mayor and Council to understand their perspective and decided to extend the schedule by an hour from 10:01 p.m. to 11:01 p.m.

“I would like to see our convenience stores sell to 11. They close at 11 anyway. It’s just going to be easier to shut down at 11,” said Terry Gardner. “Our thing is to create economic development and get more taxes in the city, we’re just going to encourage them to go down to Dixie Inn.”

“I don’t see anything wrong with 11,” said Councilman Herbert Taylor of Dist. A. 

Another topic that was brought up again from last week was how distance would be measured between businesses selling alcohol. Some discussion ensued from the Council, but it was mostly to gain a better understanding of the rules, and no suggested changes were made for the draft. 

When prohibited by a municipal ordinance, no permit shall be granted for any premises situated within 300 ft. or less of a public playground, building used for a church, library, etc. in municipalities which are divided into subdivisions with streets, blocks, sidewalks, etc., this distance shall be measured in a straight line from the nearest point of the property line of the church, etc., to the nearest point of the premises to be licensed. 

Premises in this instance refer to the building that is selling alcohol itself. To restate, the measurement is 300 feet or less from the property line of the church, etc., to the premises that are selling the alcohol. 

Another one of last week’s greatest hits got brought up again with the steep fine of the no loitering signs being brought back up as a subject of discussion. Some concern was brought up by a local business owner, who stated that she doesn’t have to do that for her stores in other places. 

Councilman Taylor restated his sentiment from last week. Stating that loitering is already a problem in some areas, and is poised to get worse once the alcohol starts being sold, and the  $500 fine helps ensure businesses actually put the signs up. Discussion ensued, but in the end, the council decided to leave the fine as it was. 

As of now, it appears as though the ordinance will take some more time, and will not be ready for the Feb. City Council meeting, although in the past they have stated that they would hold a special session to pass it once it is ready, rather than waiting and putting it on hold for the next meeting.  They are going to be holding another workshop about the alcohol ordinance on Friday, Feb. 6.

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