Local News

School Board opposes Lake Placid alcohol changes

SEBRING - Lake Placid's proposed changes to its alcohol ordinance didn't sit well with the School Board of Highlands County, which sent a message to the town council with a unanimous vote against any changes.

School Board Member Bill Brantley, who represents the greater Lake Placid area, informed the board about the Lake Placid Town Council's move to delete the minimum distance requirements from its alcohol ordinance.

At its Dec. 9 meeting, the town council approved the first reading of an ordinance that would remove some of the restrictions on alcohol sales with the goal of improving the downtown business climate. Among the changes, the ordinance would delete the ban on alcohol sales within 800 feet of a church or school.

School Board Member Donna Howerton said she opposed a change that would result in no minimum distance requirement between schools and establishments selling or serving alcohol.

Three district schools, an elementary, middle and high school, are located close to downtown Lake Placid.

School Board Member Andy Tuck said he doesn't support the proposed changes, but acknowledged that the school board doesn't have a say in what the town does.

Howerton noted that the school board does have a say concerning schools.

Brantley said the downtown is very small, but "under no circumstances" will doing away with the minimum distance result in a benefit to schools.

The school board voted unanimously in opposition to Lake Placid's proposed alcohol regulation changes.

Lake Placid Town Administrator Phil Williams said Thursday he heard about the school board's discussion on the town's alcohol issue.

Williams said he continues to review the state statutes and county ordinances relating to alcohol.

State Statute 562.45 2a specifies a 500-foot minimum distance between schools and alcohol sales, Williams said.

The town council wants changes that would allow a small restaurant to have a town-permitted patio where wine could be served, he said. Some of the council members feel like it might help promote business.

"We are researching it carefully and taking feedback from the public," Williams said. "Overall, we don't intend to have a Key West-type party down here."

Giving the okay for a business to sell alcohol in town would not be a fast process, he stressed. There will be time to review the zoning and planning requirements and time to determine the plans and scope of a business for before the town council considers it.