By David Martin

New alcohol rules a problem for clubs


September 20, 2017

A proposed ordinance dealing with how alcohol is served in Green River has the American Legion Post 28 concerned with how it would impact its functions.

The ordinance adopts changes to state liquor laws enacted by the Wyoming Legislature earlier this year and deals with access minors have to businesses serving alcohol to their customers. The issue impacting the American Legion, as well as the Eagles, is a change in how a dispensing area is defined by the ordinance.

According to Mary Seppie, who filled in for Finance Director Chris Meats during the Green River City Council meeting Tuesday night, legislators voted to change language in the state statutes that dictated an area known as a dispensing area, where alcohol is served and access by minors is restricted. The change eliminated the concept of a dispensing area and made the entire structure where alcohol is served restricted to minors unless they’re accompanied by a parent or guardian. Seppie said the city wanted to wait and see what the other governing bodies in Sweetwater County decided to do before pushing forward with their own ordinance based on the legislature’s changes. She said the city’s proposed ordinance is in line with what the Sweetwater County Commissioners passed and is more restrictive than rules recently set by the Rock Springs City Council.

For the American Legion, the proposed ordinance would limit access to their building and impact its members. Tony Niemiec, a representative from Post 28, said their building is used as a meeting space for the Green River Knights, the American Legion baseball team sponsored by Post 28 and features players between the ages of 12 and 20.

The post is also utilized by Boy Scout Troop 312. Niemiec said the post has approximately 100 members under the age of 21 as well and under the proposed ordinance the Scouts, baseball players and members of the post would be unable to enter the building. The building would also no longer be able to host all-age concerts, which the Legion has allowed.

While discussing the proposed ordinance, Councilman Ted Barney said the change would impact Santa’s Arrival, an event hosted by the city’s URA/Main Street organization at the Eagles.

Barney believes the ordinance, if passed, would result in everyone involved in the event breaking the law and conspiring to have minors enter a building where alcohol is provided, describing a snowball-effect scenario where volunteers and businesses sponsoring the event would be liable for a misdemeanor fine.

“I have some real simple fixes that would change all of it,” Barney said.

Barney proposed eliminating the first paragraph of the ordinance which specified a person has to be 21 or older to enter a business providing adult entertainment, saying the wording was redundant with other sections of the ordinance because he believes the act of going to a bar and ordering a drink to be adult entertainment. He also wanted to change references to buildings where alcohol is served to businesses, saying some buildings have multiple uses, only one of which is serving alcohol. He also called for an exemption to private clubs such as the American Legion and the Eagles. Councilman Allan Wilson agreed with an exemption for clubs.

Another major change to the current alcohol laws would standardize the hours when alcohol can be served to the public.

The proposed ordinance would allow for alcohol sales to take place between 6 a.m. and 2 a.m. every day of the week. The current rule allows for alcohol service to take place 6 a.m. to 2 a.m. Monday through Saturday and 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday.

The ordinance was passed on its first reading, with Barney being the only dissenting vote. For the ordinance to be finalized, it has to pass three readings by the City Council. Changes discussed in the meeting will be included in the second reading of the ordinance, which will have its second reading heard during the Oct. 3 council meeting. The meeting takes place at city hall starting at 7 p.m.


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