Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Alcohol Crucial to Economy? Green Cove Residents, Officials Debate the Pros and Cons

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Alcohol Crucial to Economy? Green Cove Residents, Officials Debate the Pros and Cons

Article excerpt

No one questioned the need to spur economic development in Green

Cove Springs.

But City Council members and residents alike had questions

galore this week about a proposal to boost that development by

reducing restrictions on the sale of alcoholic beverages in

restaurants.

At Tuesday's council meeting, there was debate about whether to

reduce the restrictions -- specifically, the 1,000-foot distance

required between churches and schools and any establishment that

sells alcohol for on-site consumption -- only in the struggling

central business district or citywide.

There was debate about how much to reduce the required

distance.

And there was debate about how long to debate.

"I don't think in any case the city should delay a decision,"

said Councilman Greg Will. "We shouldn't hold businessmen over

the barrel. This [proposed change] provides them with a greater

opportunity to survive."

The council ultimately voted to ask its staff to prepare an

ordinance amendment that would reduce the restrictions to 500

feet -- only for restaurants and only within the central

business district.

The first reading of the proposed ordinance is scheduled for

the council's April 16 meeting.

Waiting for a final decision is a group of local investors who

plan to open a restaurant on Walnut Street across from City

Hall.

Van Royal, one of the investors, said that the group "saw an

opportunity to . . . pioneer" redevelopment in the city's

downtown area. The current 1,000foot distance requirement for

onsite consumption of alcohol, he said, is burdensome to that

effort.

Gary Douylliez, who owns a local crafts store, said reducing

the requirement will be "a vital part of the redevelopment of

downtown."

"Alcohol is a major factor in a successful upscale restaurant.

We are going to have to have that type of business to mix in

with the others . . or redevelopment is not going to work," he

said.

Royal said he "did not want to make this a saints and sinners

argument." But opponents frequently invoked God's name in

stating their case. …

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