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Community input sought on Town Common liquor sales


Greenville City Councilman Will Bell.


By Ginger Livingston
The Daily Reflector

Tuesday, December 4, 2018

An inquiry about allowing liquor sales at Town Common has become a larger effort to develop a process for using city property to host events involving alcohol sales.

Citizens will a chance to review and comment on current policies and procedures and proposed changes during an input session scheduled for 6 p.m. Thursday in the Third Floor Gallery of Greenville City Hall, 200 W. Fifth St.

A second session is scheduled for Dec. 12 at the same time and location.

“Anybody that is concerned about, whether they are for it against, I would encourage them to come out,” said Councilman Will Bell, who initiated the process this summer.

“Whether they are for it or against it we want to hear from them,” Bell said. “Maybe it’s an opportunity for us to find a middle ground or an opportunity for us to find out this isn’t what we want to do.”

Public input could help staff figure out a better process, he said.

“The only way we are going to be able to get the right outcome is if people come and participate,” Bell said.

Currently, the city allows malt beverages and wine to be sold, served and consumed at a “properly sanctioned and permitted Town Common event.” This summer, the City Council, following a suggestion from Bell, directed staff to revise the policy so liquor and fortified wine could also be sold with special permitting.

“When someone tries to throw an event and land a big name, as we try to activate Town Common more and more, we have to have things that will offset the cost of a bigger act,” Bell said in August. “I figured this would be one more avenue to generate revenue and profit for anyone who would want to throw an event. I figured it would be a good discussion to have.”

The city permitted four events with alcohol sales at the Town Common this year, April’s PirateFest and three Concert on the Common music events that were held during the summer, said Patricia Tyndall, marketing and events coordinator with the Recreation and Parks department.

Two groups inquired about alcohol permitting rules, Tyndall said but decided against offering alcohol sales at their events.

Staff presented a recommendation in September that said state law didn’t allow municipalities to regulate the sale of liquor or fortified wine. However, nonprofit organizations could receive a one-time special permit for such sales if restrictions were followed.

Restrictions included designating an alcohol zone, the size which is based on the event size; a 10 p.m. cutoff of sales; and requiring the nonprofit to hire police officers to patrol the alcohol area.

After the staff presentation was completed, Bell said he thought a public input period was needed based on comments he received.

While the Council anticipated reviewing the topic in November, Assistant City Manager Michael Cowin said the process was postponed as staff worked to develop a special events policy that will “regulate the approval process for the use of City property and/or right of way to host events,” Cowin said. “Alcohol at Town Common will be one component of this policy.”

A rough draft was written after input was gathered from various departments, Cowin said. Depending on the community’s input, the draft may be revised.

Contact Ginger Livingston at glivingston@reflector.com or 252-329-9570.