By Errol Castens/NEMS Daily Journal
NEW ALBANY – A May 7 public hearing will allow New Albany residents to voice their opinions on alcohol in the city limits.
The Board of Aldermen set a 5:30 p.m. public hearing on a proposed ordinance to govern the sale of alcohol.
The city’s voters approved the sale of spirits and wine on March 18 by a margin 1,217 for to 910 against. Under state law, aldermen are compelled to create an ordinance setting parameters not addressed directly by state law.
The draft ordinance will allow for alcohol to be sold both by the bottle in package stores and by the drink in state-permitted restaurants and clubs. State law sets hours for package stores at 10 a.m. to 10 p.m., Monday through Saturday, with an extension to 1 a.m. on New Year’s Eve.
New Albany’s draft ordinance also would forbid Sunday by-the-drink sales, with serving hours from 10 a.m. to midnight. An exception would be made when New Year’s Eve falls on a Sunday, when by-the-drink sales would be legal from 1 p.m. to the following 1 a.m.
The draft ordinance makes possession of liquor and wine illegal in parks, playground, school campuses, libraries, museums and most other public properties.
Establishments without a liquor license are forbidden to allow patrons to “brown bag” their own alcoholic beverages under New Albany’s draft ordinance.
City attorney Regan Russell said the ordinance is not as detailed as some might expect.
“There’s a lot that’s not in there, because state law already controls so much,” he said. “Hours, days, distances from churches – there are already a lot of things out there that we don’t control.”
By state law, no establishment selling alcohol can be within 400 feet of a church or funeral home (100 feet in an area zoned commercial).
One audience member at Tuesday’s board meeting demanded to know, two weeks after the election, why New Albany’s economy hadn’t yet delivered the economic growth that alcohol proponents had touted.
“Where are the restaurants?” she asked. “I thought they’d be breaking ground by now.”