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Updated: 12/19/2013 08:00:02AM

Let’s turn up the heat on alcohol debate

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Significant changes are being proposed to chapter 38 of the town’s code relating to alcoholic beverages. As the alcohol discussion advances, a number of questions come to mind.

First, what brought about this desire by the Town Council to make changes to the rules? Call us skeptical, but it has been our experience that such changes are motivated by someone, something, or someone’s personal or collective agenda.

The touted response to this question is usually something like “its good for the _____” (town, in this case). It’s the universal response when there is no really good reason for the action in question.

To our skeptical thinking, that usually means there is something else going on behind the scenes — not necessarily nefarious, mind you, just something not being revealed. Apparently, there are some existing establishments currently serving/selling alcoholic beverages that are “questionable” regarding the distance from their business to a school or church. Makes you think, doesn’t it?

Second, regarding the distance between establishments serving/selling alcoholic beverages and schools and churches, why does there need to be a change? The response seems to be that new businesses (restaurants or bars) would be more inclined to open in Lake Placid if the distance restriction was removed. We say removed rather than modified since the first reading of the code indicated a complete redaction (removal) of the section (38.1-5 (a) and (b)) regarding distances to churches and schools. That would also explain why the definition of a school would be unnecessary; definitions section 38.1-1 (b), item School is also redacted in the first reading text. Again, makes you think doesn’t it?

Lastly, for the moment, why does the prohibition on alcoholic sales on Sunday morning need to be amended? In the current town code, alcoholic sales are prohibited from 2 to 7 a.m. every day “except Sunday and between the hours of 2 a.m. and 1 p.m. on Sunday.” This is currently Highlands County code as well (section 3-1 (b)). It is proposed in the first reading text that the phrase italicized above be removed. One council member is reported to have said it would be a boon economically if Lake Placid were the only place in the county where alcoholic beverages could be purchased on Sunday morning. Is that the image we want to portray?

There are at least two issues here. One, there are any number of businesses in which alcoholic beverages are not remotely related. Certainly the town could find such businesses to woo to The Most Interesting Town in America. Why are we so enamored of those which serve or sell alcoholic beverages? And two, restriction on the hours of alcoholic sales on Sunday is an acknowledgment of and a nod toward the religious community in our town. That is a proud tradition of our country. I seriously doubt that anyone serving or selling alcoholic beverages in Lake Placid is going out of business because they can only do business for 13 hours on Sunday rather than the 19 hours available for the rest of the week. Makes you think, doesn’t it?

We are concerned this is a “done deal” and that a debate is a moot point. It seems the town council wants this. If that is what the people of Lake Placid want, too, then so be it. But if there is a truly alternate point of view, then let’s heat up the debate.

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