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Date of Issue: September 09, 2009

Bridge Street merchant seeks beer, wine sales

Visitors to Bridge Street have an easy time finding a spot to sip a beer or sample a wine.

So why is one of the newest stops on Bradenton Beach’s main commercial strip having trouble securing a license to sell beer and wine?

“I’ve run into a stumbling block,” said Jo Ann Meilner, co-owner of the Back Alley art gallery and cafe, 121 Bridge St.

The stumbling block is a provision in the city’s land development code, which states, “Minimum separation requirement for establishments serving alcoholic beverages for on-site consumption and located within the Bridge Street, First Street North, Third Street South or Gulf Drive historic old town overlay districts are as follows:

“(1) No establishment, located in any of these historic old town overlay districts, and in which alcoholic beverages are served for on-site consumption, shall be located closer than 200 feet to any another establishment serving alcoholic beverages for on-site consumption.”

The provision dates back to 1999, but, since then, beer and wine licenses have been secured by several establishments on Bridge Street within 200 feet of other businesses with such licenses.

Meilner raised the issue with the Bradenton Beach City Commission Sept. 3.

“I would like your help in solving this problem,” said Meilner, who believes the sale of beer and wine would help her business flourish but, unlike prior merchants, has had trouble securing a license.

“I’d like you to perhaps direct staff to come up with a change in this part of the code,” Meilner said.

Commissioners seemed amenable to aiding Meilner.

“I’m surprised that’s even there,” said Commissioner Janie Robertson.

“I don’t know why” it is, said Meilner, a member of the city planning and zoning board. “But I seem to be the one having my feet held to the fire.”

 Commissioner John Shaughnessy acknowledged Meilner’s point about the number of Bridge Street businesses selling beer and wine. He recited a list of businesses and indicated his support for helping the new merchant.

“We have to support the merchants on Bridge Street,” Shaughnessy said.

Mayor Michael Pierce added, “We’ll definitely look into that.”