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County commissioners call workshop to mull changes to alcohol ordinance

At its meeting last Tuesday, the Gadsden County Board of County Commissioners could not agree on changes to its alcohol ordinance and decided to call a workshop to discuss the issue further.

The vote to hold a workshop passed 3-2, with Commission Vice Chair Anthony Viegbesie, and commissioners Eric Hinson and Sherrie Taylor voting for the motion. Commission Chair Brenda Holt and Commissioner Gene Morgan voted nay.

The current county ordinance calls for no sale of alcoholic beverages within 1,000 feet of houses of worship, schools or public parks in unincorporated county areas.

The Gadsden County Development Council, the county’s main economic development organization, presented a report that claims the current ordinance is hurting the county economically by hindering the ability of national restaurant chains that serve alcohol like Applebee’s and Chili’s from setting up shop in Gadsden.

The development council proposed changing the distance for the sale of alcoholic beverages to within 500 feet of houses of worship, schools or public parks in unincorporated county areas.

Commissioner Hinson said most commissioners were in favor of changing the ordinance to make it easier for restaurants that serve alcohol to come to the county, but some commissioners were concerned liquor stores could find loopholes in the proposed 500-feet ordinance to put themselves closer to the county’s houses of worship, schools and public parks.

Hinson added the comission is clearly opposed to such encroachment of liquor stores.

As of press time, the date and time of the alcohol ordinance workshop had not yet been set.

Commissioners said they hope the workshop will result in the proper language to change the county’s alcohol ordinance that would satisfy a majority of the commission.

By Randall Lieberman