CHIPLEY - By the end of the workshop, it wasn't clear which direction Chipley City Council would take on decreasing impact fees and relaxing regulations on alcohol.

However, it was lucid that Chipley is looking toward significant changes in regards to both issues.

"I had talked to several citizens ... and there was a concern," Mayor John Sasser said following the Thursday workshop. "So we got (Dan Miner) to start comparing prices."

After examining water and wastewater impact fees, Chipley City Administrator Dan Miner recommended to decrease the fees by about 40 percent, which, in his view, would position the City to be competitive with surrounding areas.

Since 2005, the city has doubled it's impact fees twice, he said. Chipley Redevelopment Agency Director Ted Everett reminded the council that developers have chosen other cities over Chipley due to the outstanding costs of connecting to the city's system.

"What it boils down to, they may miss out on some development if your impact fees are too high - then they go to another town," Miner said of developers.

According to information he provided to the council, the City's water impact fees were 40 percent higher than surrounding communities and 51 percent higher on wastewater impacts.

However, the Chipley City Council did not appear to be immediately receptive, nor clear about the idea of reducing rates so drastically.

Council member Brett Butler suggested the council mirror Sneads, which charges its customers for actual costs to connect and then a percentage to add back into the city's fund.

And, in response to a suggestion to abandon impact fees altogether - as is the case in Blounstown - Mayor Sasser said the City could be looking at losing financial padding for important projects.

"If you're already operating your water and sewer on a break-even basis, you have nothing to do improvements, extensions or anything like that," he said.

Miner added, without charging fees, the city would be relying on grants only or be forced to take out loans.

By the end of the meeting, the way forward was still muddled. Following the meeting, Sasser said he'd like Miner to put the information in the form of an ordinance to present at Tuesday's regular meeting, to be held at City Hall at 6 p.m.

Alcohol

In the absence of City Attorney Michelle Jordan, the council combed through an ordinance she drafted of Section 3-16 which establishes proximity regulations for alcohol sales.

Jordan drafted the ordinance after each council member provided a list of changes to the current ordinance they would like to see.

However, at Thursday's workshop, only one thing was clear: the council supported an overhaul of Section 3-18, which prohibits anyone with a state beverage license from selling, consuming or serving alcohol in any place within city limits between midnight Saturday and 7 a.m. Monday.

"It's a simple question," Miner proposed to the council. "Does the council want to add Sunday sales?"

Generally, the draft defined "restaurant," added a pre-existing establishment clause and deleted a seemingly unnecessary definition of a "similar establishment." It also reduced the footage for sales from 1,000 feet to 500 feet of churches, schools and public parks, and specified that the distance should start from the entrance of any aforementioned structure.

It did not address Section 3-18.

"I think if we want to encourage restaurants to come to this town, we're going to have to do that," council member Brett Butler said.

Council Member Ellis Reed said he'd "go along with it." Council member Tracy Andrews requested more counsel from the attorney.

At the culmination of the discussion of the ordinance, Gary Hartman recommended the council simply consider adopting the county ordinance - a recommendation CRA Director Ted Everett initially made at the start of the discussion about a month ago.

The council agreed to allow Miner take back more suggestions to the city attorney in order to create an ordinance the council is satisfied with. It was not immediately clear if the item would be on Tuesday's regular meeting agenda.