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IC City Council: Outdoor vendors can sell booze

BY ASMAA ELKEURTI | SEPTEMBER 21, 2011 7:20 AM

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The Iowa City City Council voted to allow temporary outdoor Iowa City vendors to sell alcohol regardless of proximity to residential areas Tuesday.

Before this approval, vendors without a permanent outdoor establishment could not sell alcohol within 100 feet of a residential area. The change will allow temporary and permanent vendors to operate under the same rules.

A year ago, the councilors voted to implement an ordinance that would allow permanent outdoor businesses to sell alcohol, regardless of proximity to residential areas. Now, the councilors said, they feel making the new change would allow them to stay consistent, said City Attorney Eleanor Dilkes.

"Essentially, this is just a cleanup item," she said.

There were no discussions or objections regarding the proposal, and councilors voted 7-0 in favor for the ordinance.

The new ordinance is expected to have an effect on the upcoming Oktoberfest event, a festival taking place Oct. 1 on the North Side., said Melissa Carr, a co-owner of George's Buffet, 312 E. Market St. The ordinance will help make the event run more smoothly, she said.

"It's just going to be a fabulous event," Carr said. "My husband and I own George's and think it would be a wonderful opportunity for people to enjoy the music and sit outside and sip their beverages."

The ordinance will only apply to the central district, so vendors on Melrose Avenue will not be included.

"This is just a consistency thing with existing practices," said City Councilor Ross Wilburn. "And it definitely makes sense to be consistent."

Policies for outdoor alcohol consumption have enabled outdoor caf├ęs and vendors on public property to serve alcohol. Outdoor service vendors, who sell on private property, were previously unable to sell alcohol when 100 feet away from a residential area, which seemed to be a contradiction to such policies.

"That made absolutely no sense at all," said Jann Ream, the city code-enforcement assistant.

In order to be consistent with this, officials enacted an ordinance to allow permanent outdoor service vendors to sell alcohol regardless of distance from a residential area.

"We'd like to think when we find things like that we work diligently to make sure we change them so our ordinances are consistent and they make sense," Ream said.


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