Newspaper article Charleston Gazette Mail

Proposal Targets Alcohol Sales

Newspaper article Charleston Gazette Mail

Proposal Targets Alcohol Sales

Article excerpt

City officials want to dry up downtown, and theyre proposing changes to Charlestons alcohol laws in order to do so. A bill that would amend the citys zoning ordinances so that bars, nightclubs and liquor stores would have to apply for conditional- use permits to sell alcohol for off-premise consumption in the central business district is set to be introduced at tonights City Council meeting.

Weve had it in place downtown already for a long time with the bars, Dan Vriendt, planning director, said. And I think in the downtown weve had problems with certain bars in the past. And weve also had some issues with public intoxication.

That area of downtown is bordered by the Kanawha and Elk rivers, Washington Street West, Leon Sullivan Way and on toward Smith Street.

Those businesses that already sell alcohol to consume elsewhere will be grandfathered in, Vriendt said.

Currently, the city creates conditional- use permits for bars that are in its urban renewal districts, which requires bars to fill out an application and appear in front of the Board of Zoning Appeals.

There are also similar requirements in some of the citys zoning districts.

That could also be applied to the downtown area if the bill passes.

The Planning Department signs off on permits that have the go ahead from the state Alcohol Beverage Control Administration, but it will revoke city permits if the bar has an issue.

Councilwoman Mary Jean Davis, a sponsor of the bill, believes the city needs to address individuals who buy alcohol downtown and take it into the streets.

Were trying to find a way to prevent the sale of those larger bottles for consumption downtown, Davis said.

The Strong Neighborhoods Task Force a panel on which Davis sits discussed in January addressing the citys problematic bars, particularly on the West Side in residential areas. …

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