SARASOTA -- The city of Sarasota may not be so quick to follow in the county's footsteps to lift the ban on Sunday morning alcohol sales.
On Monday, the city commissioners brought up the city alcohol ordinance, which prohibits the sale of alcohol in Sarasota before noon on Sundays. Monday was the commissioners' first meeting since the county commission lifted the ban earlier this month, allowing the sale of alcohol before noon on Sundays in the unincorporated portions of the county. However, since it was brought up during commissioners' comments and wasn't an agenda item, there was no action permitted.
City commissioners did give city attorney Robert Fournier the OK to advertise for a public hearing on the ordinance on Dec. 1. In the notice, Fournier said he will simply advertise it as for consideration in making the ordinance earlier than noon on Sundays but not definitively saying noon so the commissioners are open to decide the exact time. In the city, alcohol sales are allowed from 7 a.m. to 2:30 a.m. Monday through Saturday. In Manatee County, there is no Sunday restriction.
Fournier also told commissioners on Monday that it would take an ordinance to amend the city code with two required readings.
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The Dec. 1 meeting is the commission's only scheduled meeting in December so unless it holds a special meeting, the earliest the ordinance could be amended would be at the commission's Jan. 5 meeting.
Commissioner Shannon Snyder, whose last meeting was Monday, expressed his concerns with immediately following the county's lead.
"Just because the county does it, it doesn't mean we have to be giddy and rush off," he said. "We are more urban than they are. ... Their issues are not near what ours are. We are much more of an urban defined area. I would just proceed with some caution, not that it is a bad idea."
However, Commissioner Suzanne Atwell, who brought up the issue during commissioner comment, said the city must align its ordinance with the county.
"We have a great urban community around here and a lot of people are doing brunches, I think we need to align with the county," she said.
Vice Mayor Susan Chapman said they must look at when the city's restaurants do brunch.
"I've gone to Whole Foods to buy a bottle of wine to put in my stew and you can't buy it before noon," she said.
During Monday's discussion on the ordinance, Mayor Willie Shaw brought up the city's issue with homelessness and how this change could affect that.
"I would hope that prior to us saying it is a done deal, we have some more discussion and let the public come in with some of these things," he said. "We deal with a lot of stuff right now. Just to add fuel to the fire, I don't think that's necessary."
Commissioner Paul Caragiulo, whose last meeting was also on Monday, called the ordinance a "blue law."
"The intent of it has nothing to do with mitigating the effects," he said. "It's a piece of antiquity."
Claire Aronson, University Parkway/Sarasota reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7024 or at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter@Claire_Aronson.