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Rincon making changes to alcohol law

POSTED: July 7, 2014 7:17 p.m.

The city of Rincon is making a few changes to its alcohol ordinance.

City council members held the first reading of the revised ordinance at their June 23 meeting, and one of the proposed changes is banning the sale of alcohol on Christmas Day.

Annual license fees for package sales of off-premises consumption of beer and wine also are being upped from $1,200 to $1,500.

Another one of the changes deals with how long establishments could remain open and serve alcohol.

“How the ordinance read, they could continue to stay open after the tables were cleared,” said city planner Lameisha Kelly. “The police department wants them to stop at close.”

The change calls for premises with on-site consumption of alcohol to be cleared of all customers no later than 2:30 a.m. Monday through Saturday and by 11:59 p.m. on Sunday. The ordinance currently reads all alcoholic beverages must be removed from tables and other areas where alcoholic beverages could be consumed within one hour after the noted sales times.

The revised ordinance also includes a provision that establishments selling alcohol for on-site consumption must have a complete and operational kitchen. Also, any establishment wishing to sell alcohol for on-site consumption must have at least 50 percent of their monthly sales from food and nonalcoholic beverages. Food also must be sold whenever the establishment is open for business.

“They need to meet that percentage monthly,” Kelly said.

The ordinance also bars establishments from having drawings where the prize is a free drink, she continued. Advertised drink specials also cannot be visible to the city right-of-way. The city also will be changing from three to five years the permissible length of time that has passed since an alcohol license applicant has been convicted of a felony or convicted of violating narcotics or alcoholic beverages sales laws.

Also, any act that leads to a state alcohol license being revoked will lead to an automatic revocation of that license by the city.

If the second reading of the ordinance is approved, the city will allow the sale of alcohol for on-site consumption on election days but not within 250 feet of a polling place. Also amended is the provision for sales of alcohol in proximity to churches and day care centers. Currently, no business can sell alcohol within 100 yards of a building occupied by a church or day care center, but that could change to those buildings being freestanding structures.

The city was questioned on its requirement to have fingerprints of license holders and applicants every year, while other municipalities and counties don’t have that mandate. That means those individuals wishing to get a Rincon alcohol license have to go to the Effingham County Sheriff’s Office in Springfield to get fingerprinted and get those scanned.

“We have looked at it,” Rincon Police Chief Philllp Scholl said. “It is costly.”

Council members also approved making Veterans Day a holiday for city employees.

“It’s been talked about several times,” said council member Reese Browher. “I think our employees would appreciate it.”

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