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Milton taps changes for alcohol rules

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NEIL W. JOHNSON
April 18, 2012
— If a pair of moves made Tuesday is any indication, Milton city officials appear to be ratcheting down on alcohol regulations for events in the city.

In one decision, the city's personnel and finance committee asked city staff to tweak an ordinance to better define rules for alcohol consumption in city parks.


In the other, the Milton City Council denied a temporary Class B liquor license request for a Milton Historical Society fundraiser because officials said the request was turned in too late.


The personnel and finance committee asked city staff to draft possible changes to its ordinance on alcohol in city parks. One change could bar temporary beer permits from being issued at parks during times when youth sporting events are being held.


The ordinance bans most drinking in parks but allows people to get beer permits for events such as graduation parties, family reunions and adult softball leagues.


The permits require a $10 deposit and a request submitted to the city clerk's office.


"You can't drink in our parks unless you come and pay us $10," City Administrator Jerry Schuetz told the committee in a recommendation for ordinance changes. "It's an interesting anomaly."


The current permit process allows police to run background checks on applicants for beer permits, but the ordinance doesn't spell out whether the city could deny a permit if the background checks raised concerns.


The ordinance also lacks rules on whether the city should allow beer permits at youth sporting events.


Schuetz said he's never heard of anyone asking for a beer permit for a youth sports event, but he noted Lamar Park and Schilberg Park have had expansions and could see more youth sports tournaments in coming years.


"The issue is preventative code maintenance," Schuetz said.


Schuetz said the new rules could allow the city to ban temporary beer permits:


-- In city parks during sanctioned youth sporting events.


-- If a background check for an applicant turned up "habitual criminality," particularly linked to alcohol-related crimes.


The rules would not affect local adult softball leagues because the leagues play at parks that don't have overlapping youth sports, Schuetz said.


The city is asking organized youth summer sports to submit game schedules by June so requests for functions in city parks that involve beer permits don't overlap with youth sporting events, he said.


In a separate move, the council denied a temporary Class B liquor license request for a dinner theatre event the Milton Historical Society planned to hold May 4 at the Milton House.


Officials said the historical society turned in the request Monday, which is too late, according to city policy.


Councilwoman and personnel and finance committee member Nancy Lader said the committee had warned the historical society last year for turning in a liquor license request at the last minute before an event.


At the time, the committee set a policy requiring organizations to submit license requests 30 days before an event to give the committee and the council time for consideration.


Councilman Don Vruwink voted against the move. Councilwoman Anissa Welch asked city staff to submit a formal written policy on the 30-day deadline to give to all local organizations.



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