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News Section: Local Government

Palmetto Lifts Ban on Alcohol Sales on Sunday

Published Tuesday, August 17, 2010 2:00 am

PALMETTO – For Palmetto residents who want to kick back a couple of beers on a Sunday afternoon, you don’t have to drive to Bradenton or Ellenton anymore.


On Monday, the Palmetto City Commission voted 3-2 to repeal a ban on alcohol sale on Sundays within city limits.

Alcohol sales will once again be permitted on

Sundays in Palmetto. 

The controversial issue initially died in a deadlocked in June, but was revived after a heated discussion last month. Monday’s final public hearing on the matter (PDF, 142 KB) packed city hall.

Under the new ordinance, alcohol sales are allowed in the city on Sundays except from 2:30 a.m. to 6 a.m.

City Commissioners Tambra Varnadore and Tamara Cornwell voted against, while Commissioners Mary Lancaster, Alan Zirkelbach and Brian Williams voted for.

Eight residents spoke on the matter. Six urged city commissioners to allow alcohol sales, saying that the ban is bad for business and inconvenient for Palmetto residents who have to drive to nearby cities to purchase alcoholic beverages. Two pastors asked the city to let the ban stand.

Pastor Tad Mathews of Church on the Rock, told commissioners it was a matter of pride. He said his father supported the ban 35 years ago and he urged commissioners to vote against the repeal.

“I appeal to you not on a moral stance, but on the basis of what distinguishes us as a community,” he said. “I appeal to you on our sense of community and the sense of pride in our values.”

Michele Tanskersley, another resident, told commissioners that as an Episcopalian, she drinks wine during communion every Sunday. During family gatherings after church, it’s not unusual for her relatives to have a glass of wine.

“It’s our family bonding time, I’m not walking down the street slurring my words,” she said. “This is not everybody’s moral issue… it’s a civic issue and not a religious issue.”

Varnadore, who has voted against the ordinance since it appeared on the city’s agenda, launched her argument.

She pulled up police incident reports and presented statistics that showed most alcohol-related incidents occurred mostly on Saturdays and Sundays. She plotted the incidents on a map.

“In the past, in the 70s, when you drive down 10th Street, there was a lot of activity. That gave us a bad image. That’s when we were called ‘Palmghetto,’” she said. “Is this image you want for our citizens?”

She also attacked the unofficial poll on the matter, provided online and through utility bills in the city.

Results showed that 70 percent of the 1,190 respondents support alcohol sale on Sunday. 75 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.

Varnadore said that the only accurate poll is through a referendum. Many may have been left out of the survey, and those surveyed may not live in the city.

Plus, Palmetto residents don’t really have to drive far to get alcoholic beverages, she said. The Snead Island Fish and Crab House are allowed to sell beer on Sundays because of a legality.

“This is the same commission, that just a few months ago, did not want to have pill mills in Palmetto,” Varnadore concluded. “They are legitimate businesses that are not allowed in Palmetto.”

Cornwell said the matter could use more public safety research because the repercussions can be expensive.

“What is it going to cost our taxpayers? Hire another officer? Where are we going to get that? We already have $200,000 deficit,” she said. “None of these precautions are put in place before the vote, therefore I am going to vote no.”

Lancaster disagreed.

“People drink it on Fridays and Saturdays and are going to drink it on Sundays,” she said.

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