For nearly two years, Largo city commissioners have discussed easing restrictions on the sale of alcohol downtown in the hope of attracting trendy, upscale restaurants and clubs.
Tuesday night, commissioners finally gave their initial approval to an ordinance written to do just that.
But first, commissioners voted to add language to the ordinance that would ban alcohol from the Largo Public Library during library hours.
Commissioner Mary Gray Black proposed adding the language about the library. Otherwise, well, she didn't relish contemplating what might happen.
"We want to sell alcoholic beverages for consumption on our own city property, the Largo Public Library, where there are children all day?" she asked.
The library occasionally hosts social functions with alcohol, but library director Casey McPhee said it's rare that anyone has tried to bring it in during business hours. It's happened maybe once in three years, she said.
No one from the public spoke about the ordinance, which affects the city's two community redevelopment districts — the Clearwater-Largo Road district and the West Bay Drive district. Among other things, it:
• Removes a requirement, in place since 2002, that in order to serve alcohol, an establishment must make 51 percent of its sales through food.
• Adds a distance rule that businesses serving alcohol must be at least 150 feet apart, making exceptions for establishments in hotels.
• Allows after-hours alcohol sales and consumption at Largo Public Library's Jenkins Room, which hosts fundraisers and parties.
• Takes Largo Central Park off a list as a facility that allows alcohol, unless the city manager makes an exception.
The City Commission had previously approved the first reading of the ordinance on March 18, but it had to come before the commission again because of an error in the reading of the title.
The final reading of the ordinance is scheduled for April 15.
Tamara El-Khoury can be reached at (727) 445-4181 or firstname.lastname@example.org.