MILTON — At the Tuesday City Council meeting, the amended alcohol ordinance passed the second reading, officially allowing sale and consumption of alcohol near or on the property of places of worship.

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At an Aug. 17 Committee of the Whole meeting, Monsignor Michael Reed of St. Rose of Lima Catholic Church asked the council for an exception to the alcohol ordinance, which states alcohol cannot be consumed or sold within 500 feet of a house of worship, so the church could serve alcohol at special events such as birthday parties, wedding receptions or wine tastings.

The city soon began looking into ways to grant this exception, and found that amending the ordinance to add an “opt out” clause would be in order. City staff constructed language for the new ordinance, stating that churches had the option to opt out of the 500-foot rule.

According to City Planning Director Randy Jorgenson, once a church opts out of the current zoning restrictions, which currently do not allow a bar or tavern to operate within 500 feet of a house of worship, such a business would be able to sell alcohol.

If the church were to then decide to opt back in, restricting alcohol within 500 feet of their congregation, the business would still be able to serve alcohol.

The amended ordinance passed the first reading on Sept. 26 with Councilwomen Sharon Holley and Pat Lunsford opposed. The second reading passed on Oct. 10 with Holley opposed; Lunsford was absent from the meeting.

This amended ordinance will affect exactly 30 churches within Milton city limits, according to Tim Milstead, zoning officer.