A proposal to create an area in downtown Newberry where patrons could drink beer and wine in an open container during special events was turned down.
At Monday night’s meeting, the City Commission voted 3-2 against the proposal.
On Nov. 14, the commission approved the first reading of the proposal, with the conditions of reducing the zoning size and including language that limited the type of beer sold to high-end or craft-style beer.
The second reading and presentation, given on Monday, included the following changes:
- Allow for open consumption within a one-block radius of the downtown district.
- Drinks must be purchased by a merchant whose business is within the approved zone or a licensed vendor operating during events.
- Participants must have identification by some means of “Sip Shop Cups” or wristbands.
Examples of the special events that would offer this service included the Newberry Main Street fall and spring festivals and other similar events.
After discussing the new conditions, Commissioners Rick Coleman, Monty Farnsworth, and Tim Marden all had concerns over traffic, liability issues, irresponsible drinking, police accessibility and if it fits the Newberry feel.
“I question whether this fits our values for small-town Newberry,” Coleman said during the meeting. “I don’t see how you will sell a cup to grown men and women and then have them walk up and down the streets with their children. I’m sorry, I don’t want my kids around a bunch of people drinking.”
Commissioners Mark Clark and Tony Mazon agreed to give the open container zoning a fighting chance and felt grown adults should be held accountable for themselves and their drinking.
Even Mayor Jordan Marlowe supported the proposal and explained that the commission could cut the ordinance if it didn’t work out.
“Let’s figure it out together what makes sense to make an attractive environment that will continue to bring families downtown and add a little spice to life,” Marlowe said. “I think you never know until you try.”
The proposal could return before the commission within the next years.