PLANT CITY - City commissioners are considering a proposal to allow beer and wine sales during certain special events at downtown’s McCall Park and the old train depot.
The ordinance would be the biggest change to the city’s alcohol laws in decades. The commissioners will vote following a public hearing at their next meeting at 7:30 p.m. Dec. 9 at city hall.
There are a number of restrictions built into the ordinance:
Only charitable, religious and nonprofit groups could sell beer and wine during special events, and they would be required to obtain a permit from the city and a state alcoholic beverage license.
Sales would be allowed only between 11 a.m. and 9 p.m. Monday through Saturday. No sales would be permitted on Sunday.
Wine and beer can’t be served in glass containers.
The groups offering alcohol sales must have $1 million in insurance.
The city is considering wine and beer sales as it strives to encourage festivals and other special events at McCall Park, 100 N. Collins St., and the former train depot at 102 N. Palmer St.
Currently, it’s against the law to sell or drink alcohol in city-owned buildings and parks, with the exception of the Plant City Stadium complex, including the Randy L. Larson Softball Four-Plex and parking lots.
Ten civic clubs and organizations have sent letters to the city supporting the proposal: Arts Council of Plant City, Greater Plant City Chamber of Commerce, Plant City Daybreak Rotary, Plant City Downtown Merchants Association, Plant City Entertainment, Plant City Garden Club, Plant City Lions Club, Plant City Photo Archives and History Center, Rotary Club of Plant City and United Food Bank of Plant City.
Most of those organizations hold fundraisers and other special events at the park or the depot.
Several of the letters said the expansion of beer and wine sales would boost downtown.
“This minor change would help create a new atmosphere in Plant City’s downtown - its heart and soul - and will bring visitors who will not only enjoy the music, art, activities, food, and beverages, but will also visit our many earnest and hardworking merchants, restaurants, art galleries, and museums,” wrote Gil Gott, executive director of the photo archives.
Chamber of commerce President Marion Smith offered similar thoughts and said other cities allow such sales.
“Many cities that offer outdoor activities and events give their guests the option of having beer and wine. These events appear to be well attended and visitors are well-behaved and respectful of the organization that is hosting it,” Smith wrote. “The (chamber) board of directors believe that this change will be a positive move for the downtown area and the businesses in this area would benefit from additional traffic.”