Woodland Poised To Remove No-Alcohol Ban In Downtown

by Rick Langenberg:



The prohibition era may be screeching to a halt in Woodland Park, and elected leaders are ready to toast the occasion. Last week, the Woodland Park City Council gave head manager David Buttery the go-ahead to develop new laws that will remove an unintended ban against alcohol in the downtown, created from the okay of a permit for a new Christian school. In fact, the city may remove the state-imposed protection requirements near schools that don’t permit any alcohol from within a 500-foot distance area. In addition, the staff may look at ways in which future businesses or new applicants could be exempted on a case-by-case basis. The no-alcohol ban, a by-product of the approval of the Prayer Mountain Ministry and Creation Sciences Academy for a 15-student school near Memorial Park and city hall, has raised the ire of several council members. “We can’t have liquor in the park (for special events),” blasted Councilman Gary Brovetto, when this situation first arose in August. “We are putting the cart before the horse.” Last week, these concerns were somewhat silenced by attorney Erin Smith who told the elected leaders they have the right as a municipality to amend these alcohol-related distance requirements, or get rid of them entirely in certain parts of town. City officials have identified more than 30 liquor license holders located within the city limits. According to a map presented by the city staff, a number of these current liquor or alcohol-serving establishments are located fairly close to current school facilities. Brovetto urged that the council take immediate action and remove the downtown core from these restrictions. Other council members wanted the staff to take a more long-range approach and address these distance requirements along the entire U.S. Hwy. 24 core. In any case, the council wants to take action to remove a possible temporary prohibition situation that could infringe on the plans of a current or future business operator and create certain inconveniences. “I would suggest we be pro-active,” said Councilman Eric Smith, who strongly approved the permit for the new Christian school. But by taking this earlier action in support of the new school, he stated that he sought to change the current alcohol restrictions dealing with a distance ban between businesses and school facilities. He urged that the staff review the entire city and not just the downtown area. With the arrival of the Prayer Mountain Ministry facility, the main immediate area of concern deals with the downtown core. Unless current laws are altered, this alcohol ban would impact the heart of the downtown, where many businesses are located. It wouldn’t impact establishments that are already licensed, but it affects new applicants and future events. For example, if a business like Joanie’s Deli sought to gain permission to serve beer or wine, they couldn’t exercise this right under the current ban. Recently, city officials did discover that the no-alcohol ban only takes affect when schools are in session. As a result, future events held at Memorial Park wouldn’t be in danger of having to ban beer, wine and other special alcohol-related beverages. Woodland Pak has never developed a reputation as a pro-dry municipality. In fact, with the town’s plethora of current and future brew pubs, wine tasting shops and bars, the town has been nicknamed by some as “Drinking Above the Clouds.”