The Council Is Unanimous: Bring on the Beer Gardens
ALCOHOL APPROVED, photos - what the Sip N Stroll looks like in Laurens: There was another packed house Monday night for the April Clinton City Council meeting.
It was warm in the council chambers – the new air conditioners approved last month haven’t been installed yet – and most of the discussion was about a proposed new special events ordinance.
The ordinance, recommended by the city’s Main Street program, sets rules and regulations for city events – parades, events, block parties, performances, filming and picketing downtown, including city-sponsored events such as Town Rhythms and Rhythm on the Rails.
Of the 60-plus people at the meeting, seven spoke. Three were against the proposed ordinance, four were in favor.
All the speakers addressed the part of the ordinance that deals with sale of alcohol at downtown events. A permit to sell beer must be applied for and approved by the city manager. The consumption of alcohol will be confined to a specific area. People will not be allowed to walk around town with cups of beer, officials said.
Later in the meeting, council voted 7-0 to approve the ordinance on first reading.
Final approval will require a public hearing and second reading.
Bellview Baptist Church pastor Adam Powell said he has three concerns: his moral convictions; his two daughters; and the need for more police officers.
“I have two precious daughters and we can’t bring them now for their own safety,” he said. “We stand in opposition to this. We want our town to stay the way it is.”
Scott Tumblin, youth pastor at First Pentecostal Holiness Church, said the sale of alcohol will force him not to attend events downtown. “Alcohol destroys lives,” he said. “We have to choose between God and satan.”
Downtown business owner Ashton Barrington said the idea of alcohol sales downtown has been proposed before. “A person doesn’t have to get drunk. They can have one beer and they’re not the same person they were,” he said.
He said moving the Rhythm on the Rails event to earlier in the year – March or April – would increase the crowd size.
“We can find bigger crowds” Barrington said. “Alcohol is not the answer.”
Downtown business owner Lisa Chapman spoke in favor of the ordinance. She said Newberry has a similar law and “it’s been positive.” She said alcohol sales will be controlled and won’t be at every event downtown.
Chapman said the city businesses will realize increased sales revenue and the city will experience an increase in tax revenue. “I believe that’s a win-win situation for everybody,” she said.
Nancy Katzberg said Clinton is at a disadvantage attracting families to live here and attracting people to attend events and the ordinance will help. “To maximize the success of events, we must attract outsiders,” she said.
Downtown business owner Jeff Smith, also a member of the Main Street Committee, said the ordinance is not just about alcohol. “We need to be progressive in our community,” he said. “Other communities are doing the things listed in the ordinance.”
Daniel Strange said the sale of alcohol will “be done in a controlled environment. People won’t be walking the streets with alcohol. It will be in a beer garden.”
There was no discussion of the ordinance by council prior to the unanimous vote.