Permits may be harder to obtain
WALKER — A new amendment to the city’s alcohol ordinance will make it more difficult for establishments in some areas of the city to get permits to sell alcohol, Mayor Bobby Font said Tuesday.
The Board of Aldermen amended the alcohol ordinance Monday night, changing the way distance is measured from alcoholic beverage permit applicant sites to churches, synagogues, schools, day-care centers, public libraries, playgrounds or correctional facilities.
Previously the ordinance required a distance of at least 300 feet, measured by “walking path,” between any alcohol-selling establishment and a protected facility.
The amendment, proposed by Alderman James Phillips, changed the measurement to 300 feet by a straight-line path.
The walking path method involved going around fences and using available sidewalks, Font said.
Property owner Jim Talbot, one of more than 100 people who showed up for the meeting, said the amendment deterred a restaurant company from buying his Walker property. Talbot said he canceled a pending purchase agreement and returned the deposit to a “high-class restaurant” company that wanted to open in the city.
Walker used a straight-line path to measure the distance prior to 2010.
Alderman Richard Wales expressed concern that failure to go back to the straight-line path measurements would threaten Walker’s identity as a “family-oriented community.”
The amendment passed 4-1, with Alderman Jack Summerell voting against it.
Summerell argued that the straight-line measurement would deter businesses from opening in Walker and proposed an amendment to change the required distance to 250 feet. Summerell’s motion did not get a second.
Alderman Scarlett Major proposed an additional amendment that would offer churches or schools the opportunity to sign waivers allowing an alcohol-selling establishment to exist within 300 feet of their property lines. Major’s amendment passed unanimously.
Font said the ordinance change does not affect businesses that already have permits.