News Section: Local Government
Palmetto May Lift Sunday Ban on Alcohol Sales
PALMETTO – The Palmetto City Commission is considering allowing the sale of alcohol on Sundays.
In a meeting Monday, the commission voted 3-2 to start the ball rolling on amending an ordinance (PDF, 394 KB) that prohibits alcohol sale on Sunday. Commissioners Tambra Varnadore and Tamara Cornwell voted against it.
A majority of the commissioners asked City Attorney Mark Barnebey to draft an ordinance that will allow alcohol sales on Sundays, except between 2 and 6 a.m.
“Our businesses have asked for it for a long time,” said Commissioner Alan Zirkelbach.
Cornwall said she was concerned about safety. The reason why the ban was in place in the 80s was because of similar safety concerns.
"I'm worried about the crime increasing," she said.
The alcohol sale issue has been brewing for some years and was discussed at a workshop prior to the city commission meeting. Commissioners agreed to move the discussion to the meeting.
To see how Palmetto residents feel about the issue, city officials conducted an online poll and a survey through a utility bill on whether the prohibition of alcohol sale on Sunday should be lifted.
Seventy percent of the 1,190 respondents support alcohol sale on Sunday, according to the results. Seventy-five percent thinks that local businesses would benefit from the sales, and 73 percent said they think the Sunday alcohol sales won’t adversely affect Palmetto residents.
At first, city officials presented the council with two choices: allow alcohol sale on Sundays except from 2 and 6 a.m. or 2:30 a.m. and noon. Three of the commissioners picked the former.
Palmetto Police Chief Garry Lowe said he does not know what kind of impact the selling of alcohol on Sundays will have on law enforcement.
“I’m not anticipating any trouble,” he said. “We’re going to have more people buying alcohol on Sunday. It’s good for the economy.”
In other business, commissioners postponed action on the updated job description for a CRA administrator after heated discussions on pay grade and whether the director is a city employee or a CRA employee. The position could pay $73,000 to $94,000 a year depending on experience, according to city records.
The heated discussion partly stemmed from problems the commission had with its former CRA director Tanya Lukowiak, who reached a settlement with the city after being asked to resign before her contract ended. Some commissioners say they do not want to have the future CRA director working under a contract.
Jeff Burton is the interim CRA director. Barnebey, the city attorney, proposed discussing the matter in a special CRA meeting.
Barnebey also told commisisoners that he would bring an emergency ordinance banning "pill mills," clinics dispensing pain drugs, on June 21. The emergency meeting would skip the first reading of the ordinance.
"Everyone around us is adopting one and I, or the commission, wants to make sure we're covered," he said. So far, Bradenton approved one recently, and the county is scheduled to hear about it in a meeting today.
In the Community Redevelopment Agency meeting the same day, board members unanimously approved to go ahead with a $200,000 pilot program to rehabilitate blighted homes that violate city codes. For 2010, CRA officials are targeting three homes for the rehabilitation.
The project will be carried out in several phases and will involve multiple departments and non-profit organizations, such as Americorp-Vista and Habitat for Humanity, according to CRA records.
The CRA plans to spend $25,000 in fees and materials on each home, Burton said. Burton told board members that next year, he would like to budget funds to rehabilitate 10 homes.
“You have really come up with something very workable,” said Bryant, who is also the CRA board presiding officer. “I am happy to see these other organizations participating. …We have long needed a program just like this.”
A map with the phases and estimates of the project are posted on the CRA’s meeting agenda.
Sylvia Lim is a government reporter for the Bradenton Times.
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