City code states that bars must be at least 500 feet from each other, but a proposed amendment to the code would exclude brewpubs from that requirement. The council had planned to read the the proposed change at Monday’s meeting, but it tabled the item when some members learned that Alabama law allows brewpubs to sell beer produced by other brewers.
“That’s a red flag to me,” said Councilman Jerry Parris. “We have got to give some more thought to this issue.”
Brewpubs are establishments that serve beer brewed on-site, usually with an emphasis on craftsmanship and flavor.
Jacksonville’s code was amended to keep bars from opening within 500 feet to prevent crime, said police Chief Tommy Thompson. He said that in the past, bars located near each other, especially on or near the Public Square, created safety concerns.
He said drunk people would cross the busy roads unsafely, fight, break bottles and cause public disruptions.
“I don’t want the main drag to be a place for drunks to stumble across the street,” Thompson said.
The city was considering the change at the request of Joe Donahue, a local man who would like to open a brewpub in a building on the west side of the Public Square. City code as written prevents Donahue’s venture because the space he wants to use is within 500 feet of at least one bar, Pelham’s.
Donahue said that his establishment would not be like a bar, noting that he would only sell his beer and other beer crafted by brewpubs and breweries.
“I plan on selling beers brewed by other brewers, but definitely not Bud, Miller or Coors,” Donahue said by phone after the meeting. “I’d sell other high-end beers, probably from other Alabama breweries.”
The move is Donahue’s second attempt to establish a brewpub. His first attempt, a partnership with Heroes American Grille in Weaver, ended earlier this year.
“I was hoping that I was going to get a vote next week, but since I didn’t get a first reading I’m probably not going to get a vote,” Donahue said. “It’s a setback, but I’ll keep working at it.”
At the a meeting last month, the ordinance change had support from the majority of the council members. Now, officials said, they don’t know whether the city will support the exception.
“I thought it was going to pass until it came up this morning,” Mayor Johnny Smith said. “I don’t know what is going to happen.”
The council’s next meeting is Monday at 7 p.m. at City Hall.
Staff writer Laura Gaddy: 256-235-3544. On Twitter @LJohnson_Star.