MILTON — The Sunday alcohol sales ordinance passed its first reading during Tuesday night’s executive committee meeting. The second reading will occur in February before the ordinance can become official.

The City Council on Dec. 16 voted to allow retail and on-premise alcohol sales from 7 a.m. to 2:30 a.m. seven days a week in line with the November referendum vote.

Councilwoman Sharon Holley said she voted yes during the Dec. 16 vote, but has since changed her mind, suggesting restaurants can sell alcohol on Sundays but restrict package sales and off-premises consumption to after 1 p.m.

Councilman Alan Lowery asked if he would have to wait to buy beer for a picnic, to which Holley said yes.

Councilwoman Pat Lunsford, who has consistently opposed Sunday sales, said Milton residents would deal with beer cans in their yards, noise and would need more security.

Councilwoman Ashley Lay asked to get a crime report some time after the ordinance takes effect. “It’s something we can revisit: if this is working for our community or not,” she said.

Glen Hill, manager of the Blackwater Bistro in Milton and owner-operator of The Vineyard at 12th in Pensacola said, “I would ask you, (city council), again to maintain what you have maintained because of the future development that is looking at the city of Milton solely based on your move in the last meeting.”

Spencer Bethel said drinking alcohol on Sundays is wrong. When Lowery said not every church holds services on Sundays, Bethel suggested a compromise: restricting sales for “church hours; at least from 7 (a.m.) to 1 p.m.”

Theresa Messick, wife of former Councilman Jimmy Messick said, “This is not a church issue. The people have spoken, but what is very important … we don’t have a problem with seven days a week of alcohol sales. What we have a problem with is 7 a.m. to 2:30 a.m.” Messick then asked if the city’s noise ordinance would change.

Councilwoman Ashley Lay said the noise ordinance was not part of the Sunday alcohol sales discussion and advised leaving it unchanged.

While Messick said noise would be a problem past the existing 10 p.m. cutoff, Vernon Compton said, “I live downtown. I love to hear people downtown: the music, people enjoying themselves at events and festivals.”

He said allowing Sunday alcohol sales sends the message that “Milton is open for business.”

Greg McCool argued for Sunday alcohol sales, saying people who do shift work should be able to have a beer when they get home at 7 a.m.

In a 5-3 vote, the ordinance passed. Councilwomen Mary Ellen Johnson, Lunsford and Holley voted against the measure. If city council passes the ordinance in February, alcohol sales from 7 a.m. to 2:30 a.m., seven days a week, become legal.