Shawnee set to allow public drinking in downtown

Shawnee appears set to allow public drinking in an area covering four city blocks in the city’s downtown area.

The Shawnee City Council unanimously agreed on Monday to direct city staff to develop an ordinance allowing the possession and consumption of alcohol within certain limits for civic and special events, sidewalk cafes and outdoor patios. .

City Council will consider formally passing the ordinance on April 26.

The city’s proposal for a common drinking area is a direct response to the COVID-19 pandemic, when businesses needed more space to allow for physical distancing between customers, including outdoor dining.

Lauren Grashoff, neighborhood planner for the city, said creating a public common drinking area also helps simplify the permitting process for downtown businesses to sell alcohol in adjacent outdoor spaces. and at special events.

Some companies have also expressed interest in hosting their own events or participating in civic events.

On Monday, council members seemed generally supportive of the idea, although some said they were considerate of the business of other non-restaurant and bar businesses in the area, such as Amos Funeral Home.

“Again, I think you’ve given a lot of thought to what this will do to help our downtown businesses thrive and make our downtown that we’ve invested so much money in just a little bit more popular and a lot more success,” board member Matt Zimmerman told Grashoff. “Looks like you cut out some of the bureaucracy, simplified.

According to a map in city documents, the boundaries of the public common consumer area would be King Street to the west, West 58th Street to the north, Bluejacket Avenue to the east, and West 59th Street to the south:

The only businesses that may sell alcohol inside the common drinking area are licensed caterers and city-licensed drinking establishments. Alcoholic beverages from businesses licensed to sell alcohol must be in labeled containers and no glass containers will be permitted.

The proposed hours of the public common consumption area are from 9 am to 11 pm

In order to permit the consumption of alcohol in streets and alleys, the city may require the blocking of access to vehicular traffic during designated hours of the common drinking area.

Mayor Michelle Distler had concerns about it, citing past complaints from residents whenever large events that draw crowds disrupt traffic.

Grashoff said the city will always consider special event requests from businesses and work to limit the number of street closures. Additionally, special event permits are limited to a handful of times per year.

Below is a video recording of the meeting. The discussion on the public consumption area begins at 1:41:30.