Proposed ordinance to amend alcohol laws passes introduction

by Delta Discovery Staff

An ordinance that would amend the current Bethel Municipal Code’s alcohol laws passed introduction during the Bethel City Council’s June 25th regular meeting.

The proposed amendments would implement more strict laws associated with the sale, distribution, purchasing and consumption of alcoholic beverages, states Ordinance 19-14, in an effort to mitigate nuisances and harm caused by alcoholic beverages in the community.

“The Bethel City Council through careful evaluation of the statistics provided by our first responders, have identified an excessive rate of alcohol related calls in the community and is taking action to help reduce the harm and nuisances caused by non-responsible drinking,” says the Ord. 19-14. “Near the sites of the current and previous retail stores, a number of professional establishments (businesses and offices) attempting to carry on a peaceful workday are facing undue interruptions from intoxicants.”

The proposed amendments include amending the hours and days of operations for retail stores to reduce the number of hours the stores can be open during the business day which is expected to help reduce the nuisances near and around the businesses and offices. The ordinance would change the hours of operation to be from 2pm to 10pm. Currently the hours are set from 11am to 11pm.

The City would also require a purchaser to provide a State of Alaska ID or drivers license or sign a statement saying they are of age and not on restricted status. The State of Alaska drivers license and/or ID are the only forms of identification that will indicate court restrictions on individuals.

And, more strict restrictions on the number of bottles of distilled spirits sold by each vendor put in place will reduce the amount of hard spirits available to any one person, which is expected to reduce the amount of nuisances and harm caused by the consumption of bottles of distilled spirits sold.

“A person may not purchase more than two containers/bottles of distilled spirits from a single vendor in a day,” and “A licensee, an agent, or employee may not permit a person to purchase more than two containers/bottles of distilled spirits in one day. A licensee shall maintain a “sell to” list of customers purchasing hard spirits.”

Also, according to the proposed ordinance, the police department has identified the current law of public consumption is difficult to enforce, as the officers are rarely able to catch someone in the act of drinking.

“By changing the regulation to prohibiting open containers in public, anyone caught with a container that has the Internal Revenue Service strip stamp not intact, any container or package that has been opened at least once since purchase or manufacture; or any container or package containing an alcoholic beverage other than the original container or package could be fined,” says the ordinance.

During discussion, an amendment was made under the Security Cameras section. The motion was to strike “24 hour time lapse security camera” and change it to “30-day time lapse security camera.” The motion passed unanimously.

Voting on the main motion for introduction passed 5-1. Voting in favor were Mayor Fred Watson and council members Leif Albertson, Perry Barr, Fritz Charles, Thor Williams. Voting nay was council member Carole Jung-Jordan. Council member Mitchell Forbes was away on travel.

This ordinance is sponsored by council member Leif Albertson. The next public hearing will be held on July 9th, 2019.

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