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Sunset Beach alcohol ban proposal withdrawn

Angela Corson, left, a Treasure Island property owner, wears a shirt protesting the proposed alcohol ban.

Angela Corson, left, a Treasure Island property owner, wears a shirt protesting the proposed alcohol ban.

TREASURE ISLAND -- A proposal to ban alcoholic beverages on Sunset Beach in was withdrawn tonight in the face of overwhelming opposition from Sunset Beach residents.

Commissioner Alan Bildz, who represents Sunset Beach, asked that the proposal be withdrawn during an emergency meeting called to deal with the matter. More than 50 people spoke, most of them opposing the ban.

"Obviously this is not going to pass," Bildz said, " If anyone wants to ban alcohol they will have to do it with a petition and referendum."

There seemed to be a consensus that the main problem was parking in the vicinity of the popular beach restaurant and bar, Caddy's on the Beach.

The Lion's Club, which has a facility next to Caddy's, has agreed to allow restaurant patrons to use its parking lot, a representative told the commission.

The meeting started with three of the commissioners saying they did not support the proposed ban on drinking alcohol on Sunset Beach.

The commissioners said that unless they heard convincing arguments they did not plan to vote for the ban.

An overflow crowd turned out for tonight's debate.

The meeting started at 6 p.m. at City Hall, but before it started the 175 chairs set up for the meeting had been filled and a crowd was standing around the room. The meeting was prompted in part by more than 25,000 emails and 11,000 text messages sent by patrons of Caddy's. .

Caddy's has become the focal point of the debate over the impact of beach visitors on the Sunset Beach community.

City officials say this month's weekend crowds of between 1,200 and 1,600 beach visitors is a "severe disruption to the health, safety, and general welfare of the residents and visitors alike."

The emergency ban was proposed by newly elected Mayor Bob Minning after he met with Sunset Beach residents last week.

The residents are upset over beach visitors who block their driveways, obstruct traffic on narrow residential streets, leave trash on their lawns, and exhibit "inappropriate behavior," including drunkenness and public urination.

City officials say most of this type of behavior is the result of "unfettered use and abuse of alcohol" by beachgoers.

Ironically, not all residents favor the proposed ban, particularly those who regularly walk to the beach to watch the sunset with a cocktail or glass of wine.

The ban would apply to "use, possession and consumption" of all alcohol on all of Sunset Beach from the north property line of Sunset Vista Park south to Blind Pass. The only exception would be for beer and wine consumption at special events approved by the city manager at Sunset Vista Park and the Beach Pavilion.

If the controversial emergency 60-day ban on drinking alcohol on Sunset Beach had been approved tonight, violators could have been fined up to $500 a day or put in jail for up to 60 days.

Under the city charter, an emergency ordinance can only be imposed for two months. To continue in effect, it must be approved again with two separate votes and a public hearing.

Sunset Beach alcohol ban proposal withdrawn 03/26/09 [Last modified: Friday, March 27, 2009 9:10am]
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