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Hartselle Enquirer

Draft alcohol ordinance already in place in city files

It’s looking more and more likely voters in Hartselle will once again have their say on whether alcohol will legally be sold in the city.
Organizers of a petition calling for a referendum on the wet-dry issue have more than 1,400 names, almost double the amount required by law. Alabama law requires 30 percent of registered voters participating in the most recent municipal general election to sign a petition before a wet-dry referendum can be held. In Hartselle’s case, the needed number was 717.
The petition will now go to Hartselle City Clerk Rita Lee for certification then to the City Council to place on the November ballot.
If voters do approve the measure, the city won’t be starting from scratch as it looks to where and how alcohol can be sold. Prior to the 2002 referendum when alcohol sales were rejected, the council had done much of the work in drafting proposed ordinances limiting where and when such transactions could take place.
The 27-page document was drafted in 2002 by then-City Planner Sam Clemmons and current City Attorney Larry Madison. Similar ordinances from Decatur and Guntersville were used to help formulate its specifics.
Included were:
• Prohibiting alcohol sales within 500 feet of a church, public or private school or Head Start facility. The distance would be measured from building to building. There would be exceptions, including where a building and church were separate by a four-lane highway or if the business fronts are on different streets. The 500 feet rule does not apply to grocery stores selling alcohol.
• No alcohol sales would be allowed from midnight to 6 a.m. Tuesday through Saturday or between the hours of midnight on Sunday and 8 a.m. the following Monday. Alabama law already prohibits alcohol sales after 2 a.m. on Sunday unless voters approve such sales in a special referendum.
• The ordinance also calls for the creation of an Alcohol License Review Committee. The committee will be charged with reviewing all applications for alcohol licenses. The committee would be made up of the city clerk, chief of police, building department director and fire chief.
• All applicants for liquor licenses must supply information on zoning, building and parking requirements. The application would also require the name and place of residence of the applicant and the period of time they’ve lived at that place. The applicant must also supply their Social Security number and date and place of birth. All this information would be used for a criminal background check.
• The proposed ordinance requires a $100 application fee. Retailers wanting to sell wine and beer for off-premise consumption must pay $1,500 for a license, as well as a monthly license tax equal to 15 percent of gross alcohol sales. A restaurant retail liquor license is $1,000, along with the 15 percent monthly license tax.
Athens, which approved alcohol sales in 2007, used Hartselle’s draft ordinance in crafting its regulations.

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