CHIPLEY - Chipley City Council continued its discussion Thursday on amending a current alcohol ordinance.
City Attorney Michelle Jordan had presented another draft of an amended version of the city's current alcohol ordinance. After three months discussing it, the latest amended version presented the council with a number of holes, of which Jordan sought Thursday night to be filled via direction from the council.
Jordan asked if the council wanted to provide protections for children, city parks, residents and churches or "do you want to really focus on economic development."
"I still haven't gotten a consistent picture as to what the goal is with this ordinance," she said.
Most of the confusion centers around how close a restaurant that is licensed to sell alcoholic beverages can be to another restaurant that sells alcohol and other businesses that have alcohol as a component, as well as, the proximity of the latter to other places - such as churches and city parks.
"I think what we're trying to do is bridge a happy medium with economic development and the other," said City Councilwoman Tracy Andrews. "We're not slanted on one side."
The latest version basically puts the distance at 500 feet from a church, school, city park, other venue that sells alcohol, and 300 feet from a residence. The way to measure it is by a straight line from any entrance.
However, council members appeared frustrated with the process when Jordan repeatedly asked them to give her direction, for example, what the penalties are for violating the ordinance.
And by the second hour on the discussion, which ran nearly four hours long, members of the public spoke to the council from their chairs about the discontentment surrounding the amount of time the council has spent on correcting verbiage and defining articles, such as, "restaurant" and "full-course meal."
One person yelled that the council was "off topic" and another said the council had veered too far away from the original intent of reconsidering amending the ordinance - to relax proximity regulations from establishment to establishment.
After combing through 14 pages of the amended ordinance, it still was unclear if the attorney and the council hashed out all of the details of the ordinance. While the council requested Jordan to do more research on penalties for violating the ordinance, it appeared the council will vote on the item at the next regular council meeting on July 10 or during a special meeting.
In other business, the council heard from several members of Community In-Action, which presented a petition to the council requesting more outdoor recreational facilities. The group spoke for about an hour regarding their concerns in the community.
It did not appear that their petition fell deaf ears.
City Councilwoman Tracy Andrews reminded them that the basketball courts had become places for minor disturbances, such as, foul language. However, the City would look into funding to support new recreational opportunities for children throughout the city.
Chipley City Council will hold its next regular workshop July 5 and regular meeting July 10 at City Hall,
1442 W Jackson Ave.