Plan would ban serving alcohol after midnight

By Bobby Bryant, Editor

Darlington City Council is considering a plan that would block any restaurant or bar in the city limits from serving alcohol after midnight. The proposal got a tentative OK from council Oct. 5, despite opposition from two council members. Council members and city officials expect that it will face a lot of discussion before it’s up for a second and final vote next month. Council could even decide to table it without a vote. The plan would not affect convenience stores – only establishments that serve alcohol for drinking on the premises, said City Manager John Payne. “There’s only a handful of businesses that would be affected,” city spokeswoman Lisa Chalian-Rock said. Some officials weren’t aware of any establishments in the city limits now serving alcohol that late. Darlington Police Chief Kelvin Washington is pushing the plan as a public-safety measure – aimed not at any existing establishments, which could be grandfathered in if needed, but at establishments that might come along. “What we’re trying to do is put something in place for the future,” Washington told council. “If we have someone that comes in, that wants to come into town, and open a lounge or a nightclub, (then) there’s some language in the ordinance to at least protect the safety of the citizens.” “We’re not saying you can’t come into town and do business,” Washington said, but only that you can’t serve alcohol after a certain time. The proposal quickly picked up opposition from council members Elaine Reed and Sheila Baccus, who cast the only “no” votes on giving the plan a tentative OK on first reading. Reed pointed out that Darlington is always seeking new businesses, “and social establishments is one of those areas that generates a lot of entertainment. It’s as simple as that. …. This puts a limit on what this particular business could do.” “I would like to know how you got to this,” Reed told Washington. “ … I want to know what it is that got you so passionate about presenting this.” Washington suggested that “it might be best” to “discuss some of these things” in executive session rather than in public. “I don’t drink alcohol, I don’t believe in alcohol, so I think there should be no alcohol,” said Mayor Curtis Boyd. “That’s my opinion. … I stand in front of my Lord Jesus Christ and savior (in saying) alcohol is nothing but a crime that causes other crimes. … You choose what you want to do, but that’s my vote, and that’s where I stand.” Boyd said a bar serving alcohol in the middle of town about 11 p.m. or midnight tends to invite trouble. “You just create more havoc,” he said. “The chief here is trying to prevent that havoc. …”

Author: Rachel Howell

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