Council OK’s new alcohol ordinance
Low-point beer could become a thing of the past under new definitions distributed by the State of Oklahoma and incorporated into the City of Clinton’s new 14-page alcohol ordinance adopted Tuesday night by the City Council.
The new rules take effect Oct. 1. The Oklahoma Beer Alliance, a major beer industry trade group which is heavily promoting the changes, said in a press release issued Monday that its members are “actively preparing for cold, strong beer to be at grocery, convenience and liquor stores across the state” on that date.
The city’s new 14-page alcohol ordinance – patterned after the state’s new rules – still contains separate definitions for “low-point” and “strong” beer. However, it appears the industry is expecting wholesalers and retailers to shift virtually all their sales to the “strong” type which until now could not be sold in grocery or convenience stores.
In one of its stories, The Oklahoman said the new rules will permit beer to contain up to 8.99 percent alcohol by volume and wine up to 15 percent. It said beer and wine sold at liquor stores may exceed those levels.
The limit for low-point beer now is no more than 3.2 percent alcohol.
Changes in the state law were approved by voters on Nov. 8, 2016, in State Question 792 which amended the state constitution.
City Attorney Ryan Meacham, who drew up the new ordinance, answered questions Tuesday night from the council before its members voted 5-0 to adopt it.
Mayor David Berrong wanted to know where alcohol may be sold. Meacham said it’s contained in Section 4 of the new ordinance and that it’s exactly the same as the current ordinance. Specifically, they say distributors whose main purpose is the sale of alcoholic beverages, including package stores, may not be located within 300 feet of any public or private school or any church property primarily used for worship services and religious activities. While not contained in the ordinance, normal zoning restrictions presumably apply as well.
Berrong also wanted to know about hours of operation. They too are covered in Section 4 and state that mixed beverages, beer or wine may not be consumed on the premises where they’re sold between 2 a.m. and 8 a.m.
The mayor asked about other businesses being permitted to take on the sale of beer and wine. Meacham replied that he wasn’t involved in lobbying at the Oklahoma Legislature when the rules were established but he presumed that grocers and retailers of harder alcohol came to some kind of compromise.
Councilman Chuy Rosales asked about hours of operation for existing package stores. He was told they are 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.
“Are package stores still not allowed to be open on Sundays?” asked Berrong.
“Absolutely not,” replied Meacham, meaning there will be no change.
Councilman Don Rodolph said there “appear to be no alternatives” for the council, so he made a motion to approve the ordinance as it was presented. Jason Hulin seconded, and the other three members – Berrong, Rosales and Bobby Stewart – voted with them.