Restaurants are now eligible to locate on property zoned for business and sell cocktails with meals thanks to a liquor-by-the-drink referendum approved by local voters in the Nov. 6, 2012, election.
But Mount Carmel’s local beer regulations prohibit beer sales within 400 feet of a church, school or other place of public gathering.
Liquor-by-the-drink regulations don’t have those same restrictions, and those restrictions would prohibit beer sales on some property in the Main Street business corridor that are now legal for liquor by the drink.
A proposed ordinance approved by the Mount Carmel Beer Board on Tuesday would clear the way for unrestricted beer sales on property zoned B-1, B-2 or B-3 on Main Street, Inca Drive, Englewood Avenue, Belmont Avenue, Unaka Drive, Della Street and the south side of Bay Street.
Carters Valley Road, which also has business zoned property within Mount Carmel town limits, was not included in the proposed ordinance.
Local officials said there is no property on Carters Valley Road where the current 400-foot setback restriction would be applicable.
“We shouldn’t allow someone to sell liquor and not allow them to sell beer,” said Mount Carmel Building Inspector Vince Pishner, who presented the proposed ordinance to the Beer Board on Tuesday.
Mayor Larry Frost has said since before the November election that he doesn’t believe there is an adequate available property in Mount Carmel to attract a chain restaurant development. He added, however, now that Mount Carmel has liquor by the drink, its local beer regulations should be aligned with the state liquor guidelines.
“We’re trying to get restrictions off of secondary streets that we actually have zoned in the ‘B’ (business) zone,” Frost said. “If we have someone come in her to put a restaurant — which that may be a far out picture — but if we want business in here, we’ll have to step up to the plate and do what we’re supposed to do.”
The proposed ordinance was approved unanimously by the Beer Board and will be placed on the agenda for the Board of Mayor and Aldermen’s meeting next Tuesday.