June 20, 2014 11:06:56 AM
A draft of a city ordinance that would regulate the leasing of private property for gatherings where alcoholic beverages are served has been introduced for review.
Columbus City Council attorney Jeff Turnage has drafted a resolution that would require property owners to apply for event permits and pay $75 application fees at least five days in advance of gatherings of 40 or more people where light wine and beer will be served.
Councilman Kabir Karriem initially brought the request up for discussion in a prior council meeting, stating that an ordinance strengthening safety measures at establishments with a history of criminal behavior is needed. He referred to a May shooting at the Columbus Fairgrounds that killed a 21-year-old and injured another attendee at a graduation party there.
The draft states the permit would be reviewed by Columbus Police Department once it is turned in and may be denied on the basis of prior criminal convictions of the property owner or lessee of the event venue. The application would have to include who will be on site for the duration of the event and who would be responsible for the conduct of guests.
It would also require the lessee to hold a valid liquor or beer license. Open container laws would be enforced on the property outside of the hours when the event is stated on the application to be taking place.
Violators would be charged with misdemeanors and fined up to $500 for the first offense, $1,000 for the second and sentenced to serve up to six months for any subsequent offense. Future applications from a property owner who has previously been in violation could be denied up to six months for a first-time violator and a year for those who have failed to comply with the ordinance more than once.
Councilman Kabir Karriem, who initially suggested the city draft and eventually adopt a nuisance ordinance, said further language needs to be included into what has been drafted so far to include convenience stores where similar activity occurs.
"I think those areas inside the city that we're having problems with, they need to be addressed as well," Karriem said. "In the ward I represent, we have a tremendous amount of problems with loitering and hanging out at these convenience stores."
Turnage said there are additional ordinances already in place that could apply to some of Karriem's concerns.
"We have a number of ordinances that I think are available to police department at present dealing with open containers," Turnage said. "I'm not saying we don't need anything else. I just wanted to point out that I think things could be tightened up by enforcing some of the ordinances we have on the books."
Recently promoted CPD chief Tony Carleton said he believed implementing a nuisance ordinance would be helpful for the police department.
Turnage said additional provisions are likely to be added to the draft before it is discussed at the council's July 1 meeting.
Nathan Gregory covers city and county government for The Dispatch.
1. Spears: CMSD tax hike unnecessary COLUMBUS & LOWNDES COUNTY
2. Higgins: $150 million project eying Lowndes Port COLUMBUS & LOWNDES COUNTY
3. CPD officer involved in fight to go before city council COLUMBUS & LOWNDES COUNTY
4. MSU horticulture student gains experience at Smith Landscaping COLUMBUS & LOWNDES COUNTY