MILTON — At the March 5 Milton Executive Committee Meeting, the Milton Council voted to move the draft ordinance of the Alcohol Beverage Overlay District to the March 13 regular Council meeting. The approximately eight speakers who addressed the council were against the proposal.
The overlay would override a city ordinance that requires a downtown business making 51 percent of its income from food to be able to serve alcohol. A bar would then be able to operate in the overlay district.
The motion passed with two nay votes from Councilwomen Pat Lunsford and Sharon Holley.
Holley said since she’s joined the Council, the Council has added various overlays changing the zoning in Milton.
"If you want to have a true historic district, then keep it a true historic district," Holley said. "If you keep allowing what somebody wants to have (then) throw the book out the window…if you’re not going to go by the rules and regulations that so many forefathers that have sat here and put so much thought into…then why are we even doing this?"
"I try to be open minded and reasonable in all that I do," Councilwoman Mary Ellen Johnson said. "I’ve had calls from the business sector that don’t understand why this isn’t already moved on…95 percent (of businesses) are in support of growth and development and zoning that would accommodate that"
Starting with a comment from Councilman Jeff Snow saying the Fisher Hamilton building used to house a bar at one time, Council members discussed Milton’s history with saloons and taverns up through the temperance movement in the early 1900s when Santa Rosa County originally voted to ban alcohol.
"I moved here because I wanted to be in this community," David Farrow said. "Now restaurants that serve food, I’ve got no issue with that. I’m here to tell you I’m an ex drunkard. We do not need bars in this community. I have been there."
Michelle Wingard says she doesn’t have a problem with somebody having an alcoholic drink with dinner or at a bar. Her problem is with the people doing the drinking.
"The clientele of Milton is not business men and women that leave at 5 and want a glass of wine (or a couple of) scotches," she said. "I’m talking 2:30 in the morning...I was a dispatcher. I got the calls to send deputies down to bar right beside Carpenter’s Park Friday and Saturday night…I know the clientele."
Rebecca Jones said the business owners and councilmen supporting the alcohol overlay district can go home at reasonable hours.
"We stay home and listen to music and loud noises and police sirens," Jones said. "We like to sit on front porch and don’t want to listen to honky-tonk and sirens…Think from a resident’s point of view."