City approves ordinance to allow more outdoor events with alcohol

In this Nov. 2, 2013 file photo, music fans wait outside The Atlantic during Fest 12 in Gainesville. The city's two-year process to approve more outdoor events serving alcohol downtown began with a request from the Fest.

Matt Stamey/The Gainesville Sun
Published: Friday, March 7, 2014 at 3:55 p.m.
Last Modified: Friday, March 7, 2014 at 3:55 p.m.

Finishing a roughly two-year process, the City Commission has approved changes allowing more downtown events with alcohol and increasing the number of times a year that bars may pull a permit to serve alcohol outside at tent parties on their property.

The changes passed unanimously Thursday night.

The discussion of easing some regulations on downtown events with alcohol dates back to early 2012, when the organizer of The Fest music festival approached Gainesville officials about holding a concert on the city-owned Lot 10 parking area downtown.

That same year, the "extension of premises" issue at bars surfaced after 101 Cantina on West University Avenue had an application to hold a Cinco De Mayo event rejected. The business had received city approval for similar events for several years, including on St. Patrick's Day 2012. But when city staff reviewed ordinances following the application for the Cinco De Mayo permit, they realized that tent parties and like events with alcohol were allowed only on University of Florida football weekends.

The ordinance change now allows bars to pull six permits a year for tent parties and outdoor events on their property with alcohol. One permit would cover events on home game weekends for the entire football season.

The ordinance changes take effect immediately, meaning local bars may apply for a permit to hold a St. Patrick's Day tent party, city staff said.

On city property in the downtown area, government agencies or nonprofit organizations putting on events may receive two special event permits a year for the sale of beer and wine. As with the prior law, one permit would cover all events during home football weekends.

During Thursday evening's meeting, University Park resident Mark Goldstein, a city commissioner from 1978-1984, raised concerns about the impact the increase in the number of large events at bars might have on his neighborhood north of the University of Florida campus. Goldstein pressed commissioners to delay a vote and vet the issue further.

Multiple commissioners responded that the issue has been discussed at the commission at committee level since 2012.

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