Volume 106, Number 20 - May 15, 2009
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Alcohol ordinance debated
The proposed alcohol ordinance that was recently presented to the Pinedale Town Council passed its first reading at Wednesday night’s meeting, though questions remained for some council members.
“I’m in favor of the TIPS training program,” said councilman Chris House. “What I’m not in favor of is this being mandatory.”
According to the current draft of the ordinance, the TIPS (Training for Intervention ProcedureS) training program would be required for all employees of businesses holding a liquor license.
The ordinance would also extend the number of citations in a year that could result in the revocation of a license from two to three.
For council members, questions lingered concerning the ordinance, from the licensing fees that would be charged to the age limits for all establishments holding a liquor license.
Councilman Dave Smith questioned whether fees would remain the same.
“On that initial draft, we went through and tweaked that,” said town attorney Ed Wood. “So there’s no change up or down from what we presently charge.”
Councilman Smith went on to say that the businesses should be properly notified of the proposed ordinance, and the changes it would entail.
“I tend to agree with (the ordinance),” he said. “I think it would be a courtesy to send all the license holders, maybe a letter and a copy of the ordinance.”
Mayor Stephen Smith also had a question concerning a detail of the ordinance that would require anyone under the age of 21 to leave any establishment that serves alcohol by 10 p.m.
“Hypothetical situation — a couple of high school kids drop into Rock Rabbit at 10:30 on a Friday night to listen to music, have a milkshake,” said Mayor Smith. “Is that OK?”
“No, and if there’s a question there, I think we should follow the state statute,” replied councilman Smith.
According to the state statute, that age limit is established at 18, whereas the current town ordinance goes with 21.
“Yes, you do have some issues there,” said Wood. “So if we want to follow the state statutes, then we can back off.”
The mandatory aspect of the TIPS training was also discussed, and Sublette County treatment coordinator Kathy Anderson, who initially presented the ordinance to the Town Council at its April 13 meeting, was also on hand to answer those questions.
“I can think of barmaids and bartenders who’ve been serving alcohol twice as long as I’ve been alive,” said councilman Smith. “And to have to tell them they’ve got to do something, they’re not going to like that very much.
“If I was a bar owner, that’s the argument I would immediately make — don’t give me a hard time, I haven’t done anything wrong,” he added, referencing those who were never cited with violations.
“My understanding is that their insurance requires them to have the TIPS training if at all possible, to help reduce the fees on their insurance, as liability,” said Anderson. “And we are going to bring (the training) into the county, so they don’t have to travel outside the county.”
“I’m not opposed to this program at all,” said House. “But I’m not too eager to make it mandatory for everyone.”
For Anderson, it’s an issue of an increase in alcohol-related citations in recent years, and the ramifications that can have on public safety.
“Alcohol charges in this county have gone up from minimal of a couple hundred to well over that amount in the past seven years,” she said. “And it’s increasingly going up.”
While questions still persist, the council voted unanimously to approve the ordinance on its first reading, with plans to mail notifications to license holders, detailing the changes the ordinance would bring to the current laws.
— Wind River Resorts was given amended site plan approval to change the parking plan they had initially detailed in the original site plan.
The two parking spaces that were included inside the garage were moved outside so that the garage space could be used as storage.
— Though a revised version of Ordinance 442 was drafted, it is being tabled until the Planning and Zoning commission has held all of its summer workshops, which will address a number of ordinance issues related to the town.
This could provide further changes to the ordinance, which is why it has been tabled.
— Ordinance 447, amending the 2008/2009 fiscal budget to include about $640,000 in funds acquired from the Joint Powers Board, passed the third reading.
— The Town Council went into executive session to discuss both property acquisition and pending litigation that might affect the town.
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