Newberry commission denies open container proposal 

City of Newberry sign and City Hall
Photo by Suzette Cook

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. 

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The second reading and presentation, given on Monday, included the following changes: 

Newberry Mayor Jordan Marlowe
Courtesy City of Newberry Jordan Marlowe
  • 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. 

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While I tend to agree with the outcome, I’m disturbed that Commissioner Coleman seems to be allowing his personal feelings to influence his official actions. Talk about slippery slopes…

Joey Bagone

Absolutely glad this irresponsible decision has been shut down. I live 5 blocks from downtown and heard and felt the terrible disturbance with excessive loud music and when I got in my car and drove to the circle K the highway was packed with people drinking and smoking weed. I personally witnessed the passing of whiskey and wine bottles and joints. Also people were literally standing on the edge of highway 41 and casually crossing the highway. I had to slow to a crawl so not to hit possibly drunk people.