MILTON — The Milton City Council voted Sept. 12 to draft an ordinance allowing alcohol sales and consumption within 500 feet of a religious establishment with the approval of the church’s governing board.
Councilwoman Peggi Smith moved to pass drafting the ordinance; Councilwoman Mary Johnson seconded. Councilwomen Pat Lunsford and Sharon Holley cast the two nay votes.
The issue came forward at the Aug. 17 Committee of the Whole meeting, where St. Rose of Lima Catholic Church pastor, Monsignor Michael Reed, approached the council for clarification on the alcohol laws currently in place.
Current law states no one can serve alcohol within 500 feet of a house of worship — with no exceptions — for events such as wine tastings, Oktoberfest celebrations or wedding receptions.
After discussion, the council was in favor of an ordinance requiring that the event organizer obtain written permission from the church’s governing body.
Continuing the process, the organizer would then apply for a temporary permit from the state. Then the state asks the local governing body, Milton's city council, if the organizer has met local zoning requirements. Under the new ordinance, as long as the organizer has permission from the church’s governing body, alcohol sales and consumption may proceed.
In a Sept. 14 interview, Reed said he has no intention of offering alcohol during the church’s Oct. 13-15 Fall Festival. He’s only interested in making alcohol sales and consumption available for wedding receptions and other minor family community events.