City Alderman Seeks Enforcement of Beer Ordinance Concerning In-Store Advertisements

February 4, 2014
by: 
Dwayne Page
Shawn Jacobs

Smithville stores licensed to sell beer are prohibited from displaying in-store advertisements promoting alcoholic beverages in a manner that can be seen from outside.

The regulation is specified in the city's beer ordinance.

Due to public complaints that at least one or more stores may be in violation, Alderman Shawn Jacobs Monday night during the city council meeting requested that the ordinance be enforced. "Mr. Miller, Mr. Stribling, and I have all been contacted by several residents about a number of businesses that sell beer where you can see the advertisements of the beer signs from the road," he said.

According to the beer ordinance, "It shall be unlawful for any beer permit holder to advertise within the business establishment in any manner visible from off the premises of said establishment the price or location of beer on the premises of the establishment"

"My interpretation of this and the way this has been explained to me is that you should not be able from the road to be able to see the sign advertising the beer. I know that is the way the city has enforced this in times past," said Alderman Jacobs.

The ordinance goes on to state that "Whenever any permit holder shall be deemed by the Smithville Beer Board to have violated any of the provisions of this ordinance, that permit holder shall be notified by certified, return-receipt mail. This notice shall set forth the allegations against the permit holder and shall inform the permit holder of the date, time, and place of the meeting where said violations will be adjudicated by the Smithville Beer Board".

Alderman Jacobs said it's not fair to the businesses who comply with the law when others don't. "I've had a number of people approach me about this. It is the law and I think it needs to be enforced. In addition to that, when one business violates it and another business is in compliance, you're not being fair to all the businesses. I just wonder what action the city should take in enforcing this," he said.

City attorney Vester Parsley, Jr. said the ordinance is vague as to enforcement provisions but he would do more research and have a better answer by next month's meeting. " The mayor and I talked a little bit about this recently. We would like to look at it from the angle of working with the police chief and City Building Codes Inspector Mr. (Eugene) O'Neil in how to properly enforce the ordinance. It's a little vague as to how to enforce it properly. We will be working on that before the next meeting and maybe have a little better answer for you hopefully," said Parsley.

Alderman Jason Murphy asked if more than one business is in violation. "Is this one business or is it several that are doing it," he asked.

"I have only noticed one business but I have had calls from people who have said there are more than one in town in violation," answered Alderman Jacobs. "This is not a horse I am riding. It's just that it is the law and it should be enforced. My concern is that it is enforced equally. That all businesses are treated fairly. If we allow one business to violate it and another business is in compliance, that's not fair. As long as it is on the books, it behooves the city to enforce its ordinance," Alderman Jacobs concluded.

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