CHIPLEY - Chipley City Council appeared to be satisfied with the latest draft of a sweeping alcohol ordinance aimed at attracting businesses to Chipley.

The draft was introduced by City Administrator Dan Miner at Thursday's council workshop. Miner went to the drawing the board - tossing out more than a months worth of amended drafts painstakingly crafted through feedback from the public, the council and guidance of City Attorney Michelle Jordan.

"It was lengthy, it was deep, it went all over the place and I think it didn't meet the council's original intent of what they were wanting to do, which was allow restaurants the ability to serve alcohol," he said.

He added: "What (City Clerk Patricia Tanner) and I have done is taken the county's ordinance and redone it into the city's format to create as much likeness as we can between the county and the city."

The draft nixes the council's previous decision to restrict alcohol sales from midnight to 7 a.m. daily, instead, loosening that restriction to midnight to 4 a.m. daily. It also incorporates the county's distance rules which are no sale of  alcohol within 500 feet of a church, public park, residence and school, and restricts alcohol sales by bottle clubs to 1,000 feet from any church, public park, residence or school.

Currently, the city regulates the licensed sale of alcohol within 1,000 feet of any church, school or public park and within 300 feet of a dwelling or residence - unless two-thirds of property areas within that area give consent. 

Advantages of synchronizing the ordinances, Miner told the council, included: it allows the recruitment of businesses "that we are trying to recruit"; protects the citizens, parks and churches "from the kind of business we don't want to recruit"; and provides stability to law enforcement. 

However, the draft is one of several that have been introduced to the council over the past several months and does not necessarily signal that the council is any closer to adopting new rules on alcohol.

Miner said he sent the draft to the city attorney and is waiting on her to provide legal guidance.

Along with council members Karen Rustin and Ellis Reed, City Attorney Jordan did not attend Thursday's workshop.

The rest of the council appeared to support Miner's initiative.

"It provides continuity,"  said Mayor John Sasser, adding later, "The first eight or 10 times I've read through it, the ordinance fulfills the intent that we originally had."

"And it's much nicer from an economic development side when you're trying to approach some prospects," said council member Tracy Andrews.

"It's a much easier read," said council member Brent Butler.

Chipley City Council will meet in regular session 6 p.m. Tuesday, July 10, at City Hall, 1442 Jackson Ave.