City Council Considers Extended Hours for Alcoholic Beverages

Article excerpt

Byline: R. MICHAEL ANDERSON

The sale and consumption of alcoholic beverages in Green Cove Springs is about to become less restricted.

For one thing, people won't have to wait until 1 o'clock on Sunday afternoon to order a drink at a restaurant or a bar. They'll be able to get a beer or glass of wine at 11 a.m. on the Sabbath, if a proposed ordinance is approved by the City Council later this month.

And businesses that sell alcohol for on-premises consumption no longer would have to be 1,000 feet away from a church or school, or even 500 feet, as is the case with businesses in the Central Business District. Instead, the new distance requirement would be 200 feet, or shorter if divided by a road.

Mayor John Buchanan questioned why there was a need for any distance requirement.

"Realistically, what is 200 feet?" Buchanan said. "It's not that significant. Why a distance at all?"

City Attorney Jim Arnold replied that the issue was entirely up to the council's discretion, adding that most jurisdictions have similar proximity provisions in their alcoholic beverage ordinances.

"Ya'll are not required to have it; you just have it," Arnold said. "That's for ya'll to decide."

Councilman Bob Page drew a distinction between restaurants that sell alcoholic beverages with meals and bars that sell beer and booze but little else.

He said he favors keeping some minimum distance requirements in an effort to protect children from being exposed to those types of places.

The council agreed to leave the 200-foot restriction in the ordinance, but on a split vote, decided to change the mandatory closing time for restaurants that sell alcohol in the Central Business District from midnight to 2 a. …