The Zachary City Council is considering loosening a rule that forbids alcohol sales within 300 feet of playgrounds, churches, libraries and schools.
The city ordinance mirrors a state law that requires bars and restaurants that sell alcohol to be at least 300 feet from the protected places. But an amendment introduced at Tuesday’s council meeting would shrink that distance to 100 feet, plus exempt restaurants that do 75 percent or more of their business selling food from the rule.
At least three business people have contacted the city requesting the change, city attorney John Hopewell said. State law provides for the 300-foot rule but allows local law to be less restrictive, he said.
Issues with the current version of the ordinance have arisen because some of the protected kinds of establishments have opened in or near strip malls, Councilman Brandon Noel said.
“If we keep seeing churches and schools opening in places you would traditionally see restaurants, it’s going to limit their (restaurants) ability to operate,” he said.
But Noel and Councilman Francis Nezianya both expressed concern about allowing a bar that exclusively sells alcohol to open closer to schools and other protected locations than what’s been allowed in the past.
“If we change this … we’re going to say to ourself, why did we change that?” in the future, Nezianya said.
Though council members approved the introduction of the ordinance, they may amend it before taking a final vote at a later meeting.
In other business, council members adopted a previously introduced ordinance that places stricter requirements on building designs.
The ordinance updates a section of the development code to require all nonresidential and mixed-use buildings, regardless of their location in the city, to meet standards such as having permanent, durable awnings. The code also prohibits metal buildings, although there are existing exceptions for industrial and commercial zones, Hopewell said.
The current rule only applies to businesses located on main thoroughfares or within 200 feet of them.
The council also approved a request to place “no parking” signs on Lee Street between Main and Church streets. Cars parked on Lee Street can lead to wrecks, as when log trucks turn in from Main Street, Noel said.