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St. Pete Beach OKs first reading of alcohol ordinance
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ST. PETE BEACH – After a few tweaks, St. Pete Beach commissioners voted unanimously Aug. 8 to pass a revised ordinance on first reading that allows the consumption of alcoholic beverages in cabana areas on the beach.

A second and final reading is anticipated Aug. 22.

The ordinance would revise Chapter 6 of the city code to allow public consumption of alcohol on the beach in conjunction with a hotel. It would be allowable only in a hotel cabana area and no closer than 50 feet from the “wet sand.” Also, those enjoying a drink would be required to wear wristbands to identify themselves as hotel guests.

The proposed ordinance would limit the hours of operation from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. It would require drinks to be served by hotel employees and in an identifiable cup with the hotel’s name on it. No glass containers or plastic straws would be allowed. However, hotels will be allowed to use golf carts to deliver drinks to the cabana area, if necessary.

The biggest change since the ordinance was first discussed July 11 is enforcement. A first violation would result in a written warning to the hotel from the city. A second violation would result in another written warning stipulating that if additional violations occur within six months, the hotel would have its cabana service area permit revoked. Upon a third violation, the hotel would have its permit revoked for a year.

Hotel permits would be renewable annually for a small fee, which would be paid on Oct. 1 along with its business tax license fee.

Commissioner Melinda Pletcher raised concerns over the effectiveness of the ordinance.

“I’m in full support of this,” Pletcher said. “I just want to make sure we’re tweaking it enough.”

Commissioner Terri Finnerty said the revised ordinance “puts the responsibility smack dab in the hands of the hotels.”

Commissioners added a provision to allow golf carts at the request of Keith Overton, president of the TradeWinds Island Resorts.

“I think the practicality of having a golf cart there serves a lot more purposes beyond serving a beverage,” Overton said. “There’s a huge trash can attached to the back and as the server serves the drink, she immediately takes the old trash and throws it away. It also gives her a base to operate from. Can you imagine carrying 12 drinks 1,200 feet on your shoulder in 100-degree weather? You think about the logistics of trying to serve those people in that magnitude of space and you cannot do that.”

Bill Pyle, a resident of Silver Sands condominiums, said the ordinance would “turn our family-oriented beach into another Daytona Beach.”

Pyle also expressed concern that the ordinance might be discriminatory because “hotel guests are allowed to drink on the beach but local residents are not.”

The city passed an ordinance on June 25, 2015, that bans the consumption of alcohol on city beaches. The ordinance came at the request of the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office.

The current revision only affects hotel properties with cabana rentals. Alcohol consumption will remain illegal on Upham, County Park and Pass-A-Grille beaches.

In other action, commissioners:

• Approved a request by the Recreation Department to hang banners over 75th Avenue to promote the city’s October concert series at Horan Park. If also approved by the Florida Department of Transportation, the banners would be installed Oct. 2 and taken down Oct. 30.

• Approved a $84,480 change order to the purchase agreement with Nelson Construction for the Pass-A-Grille Way Reconstruction project. The cost is associated with a sewage excavation trench, which is associated with the installation of a new sewage pipe in the area of Cabrillo and 32nd avenues.

• Approved a $120,000 change order with Hinterland Group Inc., for the Lift Station No. 16 rehabilitation project. The cost is associated with the installation of a fiberglass lining to the wet well, which initially was considered to be in good shape.

• Passed an ordinance on final reading that establishes a 120-day moratorium on applications for permits by wireless communications companies seeking to build 5G antennas in the city. The purpose of the moratorium is to give the city time to develop a policy on the permit process.
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