City to look at side­walk al­co­hol sales next month

The Covington News - - News - JAY JONES

Restau­rants in Por­terdale could soon serve beer and wine on side­walks cafe style if a pro­posal to al­low open con­tain­ers out­side be­comes law.

The Por­terdale City Coun­cil will con­sider two draft or­di­nances next month that will al­low restau­rants to set up ta­bles out­side their busi­nesses for reg­u­lar busi­ness and ex­pand the area to al­low open con­tain­ers dur­ing spe­cial events. Coun­cil­man Tim Sav­age brought the pro­pos­als up for con­ver­sa­tion. He said the pro­pos­als are sim­i­lar to laws al­ready in place in Madi­son and Sa­van­nah.

The suc­cess of the river town’s St. Pa­trick’s Day cel­e­bra­tion spurred Sav­age to bring the topic up for dis­cus­sion dur­ing last week’s coun­cil work ses­sion.

“I see this as some­thing to keep en­ergy in the down­town area and at­tract some busi­nesses down in that al­ley­way where they can sit out there and have a drink,” Sav­age said. “If we give that free­dom in such a way that Sa­van­nah has to

the busi­nesses down here, it will in­crease sales. I think St. Pa­trick’s Day went off with­out a hitch and peo­ple han­dled them­selves quite re­spon­si­bly.”

Sav­age’s ini­tial pro­posal out­lines boundaries in and around down­town Por­terdale. One boundary would in­clude the Yel­low River bridge, north to the gym, east to the Por­terdale Mill lofts and al­ley­way and west to the his­toric de­pot. The boundaries would ex­pand to Crow­ell Park and the Yel­low River Park to cover spe­cial events.

Sav­age added the Por­terdale Po­lice sup­ports the mea­sure as a way to bet­ter man­age the serv­ing of al­co­hol dur­ing large events.

The cur­rent or­di­nances re­strict cer­tain restau­rants from serv­ing cus­tomers on side­walks. An ease­ment for the Por­terdale Lofts area al­lows serv­ing cus­tomers on side­walks but re­quires a struc­ture, like a me­tal fence, to en­close the area. Sav­age said that was im­prac­ti­cal and could im­pede foot traf­fic.

Sav­age sug­gested restau­rants could use a chain to drop out each night to mark a ser­vice area, then ex­tend open con­tain­ers for spe­cial events.

Coun­cil mem­bers Linda Fin­ger and Low­ell Cham­bers expressed sup­port for set­ting a boundary for open con­tain­ers dur­ing spe­cial events but were cau­tious on al­low­ing al­co­hol con­sump­tion out­side dur­ing reg­u­lar busi­ness hours.

“I’m not en­thu­si­as­tic about just say­ing ‘throw the whole town wide open and won­der around with your ham­burger and your drink,’” he said.

Mayor Ar­line Chap­man said the coun­cil should ad­dress the daily serv­ing of al­co­hol out­side a way to help busi­nesses.

“Right now, the­o­ret­i­cally, they can not do that and serve a glass of wine. So, are we go­ing to think about cov­er­ing that as­pect of it, to change it where you’re not walk­ing all over town?” she asked. “You have to drink that glass of wine in con­junc­tion with the fact that the res­tau­rant is lo­cated there. I think at some point in time if we are go­ing to en­cour­age restau­rants and cafes to come in, we’re go­ing to have to ad­dress that, so we might as well ad­dress it now and take care of it in one ad­just­ment rather than half­way and hav­ing to do it over again.”

Cham­bers sug­gested break­ing Sav­age’s pro­posal into two in or­der to clar­ify what the town’s goals are in serv­ing al­co­hol on side­walks. He be­lieves the pro­posal could work if restau­rants can staff the area to han­dle the busi­ness and the town re­stricts peo­ple to on-site con­sump­tion.

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