Businesses in Decatur can now sell alcohol closer to churches, schools

Decatur City Council changes alcohol ordinance for downtown businesses

DECATUR, Ala. - Decatur City Council approved to reduce the distance between an establishment selling alcohol in downtown Decatur and a school or church.

Hughey Reynolds is the pastor of First United Methodist Church in downtown Decatur.

"We as a church advise people to abstain from alcohol, however we also know that Jesus himself turned water into wine," said Reynolds.

Businesses can now sell alcohol within 25 feet of a school or church in downtown. The old alcohol ordinance required a buffer zone of 500 feet or 200 feet plus a road.

"If you look at our downtown you'll see the buildings are very close together and so it's very difficult to have that buffer in the downtown area," explained Chuck Ard District 5 Councilman.

The ordinance change means a restaurant selling alcohol can open up behind First United and the only thing separating it from the church is this alley.  Reynolds believes the change could give his church the opportunity to minister to more people.

"I've served a church in Birmingham that had 57 restaurants within the three block area on the south side of Birmingham, and more than three quarters of those had a license to sale alcohol, in fact some people from all those restaurants came and joined us to some of our services,"  Reynolds said. 

Council members say loosening the restrictions will allow the downtown area to grow. "We've just got to do everything that we can to allow businesses not only survive but thrive and in this instance we're trying to attract new businesses and hopefully this will allow that to happen,” said Ard.

The ordinance change will only impact the downtown area.
 


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