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October 12, 2012

City amends alcohol ordinance

Changes brew pub requirements; tweaks single container definition

CULLMAN — The rules surrounding alcohol sales in the City of Cullman are about to change. But, not by much.

After more than a year of alcohol sales in Cullman, city officials have approved some minor tweaks to the alcohol control ordinance.

The council had previously clarified some definitions to the ordinance, but these latest amendments represent the first tangible changes to the local regulations.

One change comes in the brew pub section of the ordinance, which had required any potential micro-brewery restaurant to produce at least 240 barrels of alcohol per year. That requirement has now been lessened to 120 barrels, which officials say makes the business model more sustainable for a mid-size community such as Cullman.

City council president Garlan Gudger, Jr. said the change was made at the request of a prospective business owner who hopes to open a brew pub in downtown.

“A brew pub could be coming on First Avenue, and the owners had requested the level you have to produce annually be changed,” he said. “This will make it feasible to launch this small business, and potentially for other businesses in the future.”

Any potential brew pub must still follow established restaurant guidelines and the restaurant must occupy at least 51 percent of the floor space.

The council also added a new definition for “Single Consumption Container,” after a recent surge of large-bottled gourmet beer was causing some confusion as to what exactly is allowed under the ordinance. Single-bottle sales remain illegal under the ordinance, though a new definition defines a single-consumption container of beer as 16 ounces or less, and a container of wine as 6 ounces or less.

The clarification makes it legal to sell larger bottles of beer.

“We had never clarified the size of bottles and with the new state code it put the City of Cullman in a place where we had to clarify,” Gudger explained. “So as the state code has changed we had to address that here.”

A section governing off-premise sales was also adjusted, clarifying that it is a violation to sell alcoholic beverages in any container different than the package it was purchased in from the wholesaler. Sales of 4, 6, 12 and 18-packs, as provided from a wholesaler, are allowed.

A new section to defer to state code in any instance of conflict was also added, which should bring the local ordinance in closer harmony to state laws that already govern alcohol sales.

The new passage states:

“This Ordinance shall be deemed cumulative with and supplemental to any and all statutes of the State of Alabama regarding the subject matter hereof and to be subordinate to same and in no manner intended to supersede any such statues of the State of Alabama.”

Gudger said that final amendment should reduce future headaches for city officials to adhere to the ever-evolving state laws surrounding alcohol.

“State code often changes, and one of those was in the last legislative session,” he said. “So now we’ll be able to keep up with the state code without having to amend ours. Our ordinance has been crafted through due diligence and it has worked for most people.”

* Trent Moore can be reached by e-mail at trentm@cullmantimes.com, or by telephone at 734-2131, ext. 220.

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