POINT PLEASANT — The City of Point Pleasant is considering allowing the sale of beer at certain public events under strict guidelines.
The first of two required readings of the ordinance passed at the April meeting of Point Pleasant City Council, though the vote was not unanimous. The law requires a public hearing, set for 6:45 p.m. this Monday at the municipal building to allow for comments from residents. Then, a second reading of the ordinance, with a majority of votes, will be required to pass it. The second reading is expected to come before council at its regularly scheduled meeting at 7 p.m., also this Monday.
If passed, the ordinance would allow the sale of beer at public events, similar to events held in surrounding communities, such as the Pomeroy Sternwheel Festival, Big Bend Blues Bash (also in Pomeroy), the River Rat Beer and Music Festival in Gallipolis, etc. Those events do allow consumption of beer but within a designated area under specific guidelines.
Councilman Gabe Roush, who is also an organizer of the Bikes and BBQ event, said the Parks and Recreation Committee received a majority of comments from those visiting the inaugural ride that suggested the selling of craft beer as a supplement to it. Roush said the suggestions from the public, along with successful tourist events which sold beer at surrounding communities, gave the Parks and Recreation Committee pause to consider it in Point Pleasant. Roush said he researched ordinances from surrounding towns, including Ravenswood, to see what worked and extra stipulations were added to Point Pleasant’s version.
“We did our homework,” Roush said. “There are ordinances in almost every surrounding town around us if event planners want to pursue it (the sale of beer). We want this to be a tasteful addition and an amenity to add…it’s something responsible adults can enjoy.”
Roush explained the areas where beer is sold and consumed, under the ordinance, would be noted and separated from other areas.
“We really, truly want to do this right,” Roush said about presenting the ordinance for consideration and the research involved.
At the previous meeting, prior to the vote on the first reading, Councilwoman Jerrie Howard said: “I think it’s a good idea. I think that it’s something that many communities do and I think it’s time we did it too. It’s no different than going into a restaurant and having a drink.”
“I think it’s worth a try,” Councilwoman Janet Hartley said with Councilwoman Olivia Warner in agreement.
Councilwoman Elaine Hunt respectfully disagreed with the passage of the ordinance.
“I was elected to serve the people and a lot of the people in my ward are older and I did a little survey…and most don’t want it,” she said.
Roush said the ordinance, as written, would not allow open containers up and down Main Street and the beer consumption would be confined to specific areas. Applicants would also be required to fill out essentially the same application they fill out with the State of West Virginia with the City of Point Pleasant, to serve the beverage.
“I have to go with the people who elected me and that’s what I was elected for, to respond to their needs,” Hunt said.
“If we try it and it doesn’t work, we can always rescind it,” Howard said. “I think if we’re going to move into the 21st Century, we need to try some new things. It’s a progressive idea that a lot of communities are doing.”
Essentially, what the ordinance is looking to achieve is the allowance of a “beer garden” which can be found at several public events where beer is often served under tents or in specified areas. The ordinance, however, has strict guidelines and, if passed requires the aforementioned permit contain a map or sketch showing specific areas in which beer will be served and consumed; a plan for enforcing the separation of drinking and non-drinking areas, as well as a plan to control consumption and avoid public intoxication and nuisances; insurance minimums of $2 million in general liability coverage and $1 million alcohol liability coverage must be obtained by the event organizers.
Permits must be submitted no less than one month prior to an event, festival or show; permit areas are not to be located immediately adjacent to an established church or other places of worship that is at the time conducting a regularly scheduled worship service or event. Every permit is reviewed by the Parks and Recreation Committee. A permit fee of $200 must be paid to the city prior to consideration for approval. The park or other city venue must be cleaned up at no expense to the city unless otherwise predetermined, which shall include a daily cleanup as well as final cleanup at the conclusion of the event.
Hunt and Councilman Rick Simpkins voted no on the first reading. Voting for the ordinance were Howard, Roush, Hartley, Warner, Council members Leigh Ann Shepard and Brad Deal. Council members Charles Towner and Elizabeth Jones were absent from the meeting.
The required legal notice about the public hearing also appeared in the Point Pleasant Register to allow for notification about public comment.
Beth Sergent is editor of Ohio Valley Publishing.