If the council members could go back in time a week and erase their votes on the controversial beer issue, they would gladly do it.
Unanimously conceding their error in judgment, the council voted Tuesday to rescind a ban they approved a week ago prohibiting the Murray Parkway Golf Course from selling beer because it is located within 300 feet of a church."Last week when I left the meeting I wished I could have called back my vote," said Councilman Greg Brown. "I'm back to correct a mistake."
Each of the five council members, in turn, expressed regret for their decision, which they said was made with insufficient information.
Murray Parkway Golf Course and other businesses with class B beer licenses may continue to sell the beverage within 300 feet of churches or schools until a task force thoroughly studies the issue.
The council last week determined the golf course was not in compliance with class B license ordinance because of its close proximity to the church.
But Councilman P. Gary Ferrero told the council Tuesday that members of that church called him and said they did not object to beer being sold at the golf course. Churchgoers had never had a problem with intoxicated golfers, Ferrero reported.
Ferrero said he "made a mistake" in voting for the arbitrary 300-foot-distance ordinance because he got "caught up in the heat of the meeting."
He reaffirmed that there should be a buffer zone between a church, school and a business that sells beer. But he feels the issue should be handled through zoning - not ordinances.
Councilwoman Julie Davis indicated that the council's action last week was not intended "to punish the golf course." She urged the council to reevaluate beer consumption ordinances that affect other recreational facilities.
Councilwoman Mary-Jane Ashton said the same leeway needs to be given other businesses as is being accorded the golf course.
If a person who has been drinking on the golf course then causes physical damage to someone or something, is the city liable? asked Councilman Norman Nielsen.
He was assured by City Attorney Craig Hall that the city would not be liable under such a situation because the city does not hold the license or sell the beer.
Nielsen explained that he voted in favor of the 300-feet rule last week not because he believed "the golf course was turning into a tavern," but because he was worried about the city's liability.
As a result of the council's vote Tuesday, any class B licensee that does not comply with the distance requirement is exempt until the task force can study the city's laws and adopt new policy.