LAKE PLACID - The Town Council approved the first reading of an ordinance that would remove some of the restrictions on alcohol sales with the goal of improving the downtown business climate.
The ordinance would allow the sale of alcoholic beverages to start at 7 a.m. on Sundays instead of 1 p.m. and would delete the ban on alcohol sales within 800 feet of a church or school.
Also, the ordinance would allow permitted establishments to serve alcohol on patios.
Councilman Ray Royce said state law mandates a minimum distance from schools so no matter what the town does there will still be a minimum distance forbidding alcohol sales regarding schools.
Checking the state laws, Town Administrator Phil Williams said alcohol sales are prohibited within 500 feet of a school.
Church of the Nazarene Pastor Tim Taylor asked about the impetus behind changing the alcohol laws and if council trying to address an immediate concern.
Mayor John Holbrook responded, "We are just trying to do things for some of our small business owners to be able to promote business and bring more people into town."
Councilman Mike Waldron said many people believe the Interlake Boulevard and Main Street area is not close to functioning to the level it could be.
"We have hair salon, after hair salon, after hair salon, barbershop, antique store and furniture store and then there are some empty buildings here and there.
Waldron reiterated what he said earlier in the meeting about a local businessman who was looking into opening a business on Interlake Boulevard.
During his own research, the businessman discovered he could not find a place to open a wine bar and perhaps sell some food, Waldron said.
Taylor asked if the council's plan would include a prohibition of bars and similar places like pool halls, which concentrate on serving alcoholic beverages.
Waldron replied that as the council stated earlier, alcohol sales would be allowed at establishments that derived at least 51 percent of their business from food sales.
He is "pro-business" and he wants to "enhance" the downtown, but does not believe that a "stand-alone bar" would enhance the downtown, he said.
"My intent is to have a place where a person can come in and enjoy, hopefully, a good income from having a restaurant where they can also sell an alcoholic beverage," Waldron said. "We are not headed in the direction of making Lake Placid a wild west saloon area." Council unanimously approved the first reading of the amendment to the town's alcoholic beverages ordinance.