Greenville County Council moves forward with banning alcohol sales in bars

FILE – In this June 29, 2004 file photo, a bartender serves two mugs of beer at a tavern in Montpelier, Vt. Alcohol problems affect almost 33 million adults and most have never sought treatment. That’s according to a government survey indicating that rates have increased in recent years. (AP Photo/Toby Talbot, File)

GREENVILLE COUNTY, S.C. (WSPA) – Greenville County Council is moving forward with limiting the sale of alcohol at bars and restaurants that are open late.

Greenville County Council Public Safety Committee passed a version of the bar ordinance Monday that “restricts the hours of on-premises consumption of beer, ale, porter, wine, and/or alcoholic liquors” between the hours of 2 and 6 A.M. The ordinance mirrors the similar ordinances already in place in the cities of Greenville and Mauldin.

Council originally voted on the ordinance in July. Then in August, they reconsidered their vote and moved the ordinance back to committee.

“The original ordinance was worded so that it looked like if you sold alcohol, at 2 A.M. you had to shut down your operation,” said Councilman Lynn Ballard, the former Public Safety chairman who proposed the original ordinance.

Now, place can still stay open, but they just can’t sale alcohol. If they’re caught selling or someone is consuming alcohol after that time, owners could face a misdemeanor charge.

“We didn’t want anybody that’s operating to have to shut down their entire operation if they wanted to stay open, serve food or have games,” Ballard said.

Council says they originally proposed the ordinance to help solve a public safety issue.

Council provided calls for service number from the Sheriff’s Office. The numbers show between the hours of 2 and 6 A.M. since the beginning of the year, Greenville County deputies responded to 205 calls for service at the 16 places in the county that are open after 2 A.M.

“This is one area, that not only improves public safety, but it also takes a burden off the Sheriff’s Department tying up a lot of manpower in just a few locations,” Ballard said.

Club owners say they felt blindsided by the vote since council members had been working with them to find a solution. With the current ordinance, owners say they will lose money.

“We pay for a license to be opened 24/7,” said Raul Sanchez, the manager of Club La Roka.

He says he has one of the longest standing clubs in the county since his business has been open 15 years. La Roka stays open until 5 A.M. Sanchez says he sees a lot of business after 2 A.M. and this ordinance will hurt his bottom line.

“If there’s no more sales, ain’t no point in being open,” Sanches said.

However, he’s still holding out hope that Council may reject the ordinance passed through the Public Safety Committee.

“Things can happen everywhere,” Sanchez said. “It doesn’t necessarily have to be at a nightclub.”

The full council will have a final vote on the ordinance at their meeting on January 9th.

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