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Date of Issue: February 10, 2010

Action on alcohol ordinance delayed

A proposed ordinance creating a new process for businesses seeking to sell alcohol needs more scrutiny, Bradenton Beach commissioners agreed Feb. 4.

The commission, meeting at city hall, 107 Gulf Drive N., was scheduled to take up a second reading of an ordinance establishing a conditional-use permit process for alcohol sales and removing distance limitations for alcohol sales on Bridge Street.

But instead of moving forward with a second, final reading, commissioners unanimously voted to continue the reading to a meeting at 1 p.m. Feb. 18.

Before that date, commissioners said they wanted to further review the proposed ordinance.

A first reading of the measure took place Jan. 21, but commissioners did not fully review the ordinance before the meeting. Advance copies of the document were not included in their preparation materials and were instead distributed at the meeting.

Additionally, commissioners cited concerns about certain provisions in the ordinance, including concerns from business-owner and planning board member Jo Ann Meilner, who wants to sell beer and wine at the Back Alley on Bridge Street.

Meilner’s request that the city review the issue prompted the creation of the ordinance, but a recent letter to commissioners made it clear she objected to the draft.

Meilner said the ordinance is too complicated.

“This proposed ordinance is full of expensive, unnecessary, ridiculous requirements,” she wrote.

To resolve her problem, she suggested eliminating the old provision in the land-development code that requires a separation of 200 feet for Bridge Street businesses selling alcohol.

The provision, said Meilner, has been skirted in the past. And, she said, currently puts the Rotten Ralph’s operation at the Historic Bridge Street Pier in violation of the code.

“The best solution would be to eliminate Sec. 34-385 Alcohol now,” Meilner wrote commissioners. “This will bring the City Pier into compliance… There will not be a stampede of applications for alcohol permits on Bridge Street just as there has been no stampede anywhere else in town where it is currently allowed.”

In her letter, Meilner suggested a work session for the commission to discuss the issue with planning board members, the police chief, local business people and others.

The commission agreed to a meeting, possibly as early as Feb. 9.