Montrose, CO – In an effort to promote local business the City Council has opted out of an existing state statute that prohibits alcohol from being served for "on-premise consumption" within 500 feet of a school campus, as that boundary can limit where new businesses and restaurants are able to open.
Councilors voted 5-0 Tuesday evening to approve Ordinance 2456. The new policy will allow businesses to open within the 500-foot boundary of a school campus and apply for two different kinds of licenses; beer and wine or hotel and restaurant. Retail liquor stores, bars, and taverns are still prohibited within the boundary.
Councilors reexamined to the issue in August to find a balance between protecting children from alcohol while encouraging economic development, particularly in the downtown area.
Any business wanting to serve alcohol must apply for a liquor license, which is reviewed and voted on by the City Council. Froggy's taco shop is under construction next to the new Coffee Trader on South Fifth Street downtown. The building sits just within the 500-foot-boundary of Montrose High School.
Earlier this year the owner of Froggy's went before the council seeking approval to sell beer and wine in his restaurant. Froggy's is seeking a hotel and restaurant license, which is different from a retail liquor license – for a liquor store for example – or a tavern or bar license that allows a business to sell hard alcohol as it's primary means of revenue.
The old boundaries in place for Northside and Pomona elementary schools and Montrose High School, limited the options for business owners to open restaurants in the downtown area.
Froggy's would like to offer people the option to enjoy beer, wine or a mixed cocktail with their meal. The owner assured the council that Froggy's would have a strict policy against serving minors and keep alcohol away from minors who may work in the restaurant.
In 2014 councilors opted not to change the ordinance for a business that applied for a hotel and restaurant license near Montrose High School.
Montrose Police Chief Tom Chinn told councilors that any business serving alcohol near a school may be subject to more scrutiny by the police department. Chinn said this approach will help ensure restaurants located near schools are not exposing school children to alcohol. He said restaurant owners have a duty to prohibit alcohol from coming into contact with minors.
City Councilor Barbara Bynum said during a recent work session that restaurants should have the freedom to open anywhere in town.
"By virtue (of this ordinance) we are limiting where restaurants can go. We ought to allow restaurants to sell alcohol in those areas," Bynum said. "It's hurting us in an economic development perspective."
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