Wednesday, Oct 22, 2014
Editorials

LP council's potential alcohol ordinance change is a debate worth having

Published:

The Lake Placid Town Council will take up a subject that, at least in past years, would have caused quite a stir. Changing alcohol ordinances concerning the amount of space required between where it can be served and the hours in which it can be sold sometimes whips some teetotalers into a frenzy. But it's a good discussion to have.

At Monday's town council meeting, council members will consider whether to change how far away liquor can be sold from schools and churches. Town Administrator Phil Williams said the council wants to see if the town's ordinances should be in line with the rest of the county.

The council also will consider if alcohol can be sold before 1 p.m. on Sundays. Proponents argue that when part-time residents visit from South Florida they can't purchase the refreshments they might want for entertaining, due to limitations.

Council member Debra Worley said the current regulations cause a stranglehold on holding functions that many people might enjoy because of the close proximity to so many churches and schools.

Most of these laws about distances and times alcohol can be served go back many decades. These laws are in place in many cities in many states. Like some council members, we believe they are antiquated and should be adjusted.

Plenty of places in Florida have different ordinances on these matters. It hasn't meant the destruction of civility.

The distance between drinking establishments and schools and churches has been an issue in other communities as well. The idea is to not create an environment around schools of bars and lounges promoting that activity. This could make sense if we're talking about rowdy bars or even strip joints, but even then most liquor establishments are most popular at night, not when school is in session. And strip joints aren't allowed in the county.

As for churches, we're not sure why there is a space requirement. It will be interesting to hear what any opponents have to say about it.

Restricting the time on Sundays that alcohol can be sold makes even less sense. What good does it do to sell after 1 p.m. but not before? Is there a fear of people getting drunk before church? Anyone that determined to drink alcohol in the mornings probably already has a stash just waiting.

It's gutsy for the council to bring up these issues but we're glad they are doing it. Common sense should be applied to some antiquated laws.

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