Brandi Dunn
Brandi Dunn |

It began as a simple request: Please allow the sale of alcohol at supermarkets and restaurants on Sunday morning. Instead, city commissioners asked their staff to conduct a broader review of alcohol regulations with an eye toward having changes in effect by the December holidays.Resident Brandi Dunn told commissioners today that Sunday alcohol sales are allowed in neighboring Hillsborough and Orange counties, as well as in the Polk cities of Lake Wales and Dundee.

She cast the issue as both an inconvenience for people who want to buy beer or wine when they shop for groceries on Sunday mornings and as an economic boost for restaurants.

“I know several people who go outside of the county for brunch because they want to have a mimosa or a bloody Mary,” she said.

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Commissioners seemed sympathetic with the request, with Justin Troller joking that he had to wait for two minutes at Target to buy a bottle of wine because he arrived at the cash register at 11:58 a.m. Sunday.

Commissioner Don Selvage suggested the staff review all Sunday alcohol regulations, including closing times for bars. And Commissioner Jim Malless said a review of rules regarding downtown bars should be included.

“This commission voted 7-0 to direct staff based on some documentation I provided to make some changes to the code. Those changes never occurred,” Malless said. “My preference is if we’re looking at hours, we might as well look at the whole thing.”

Currently, alcohol sales are prohibited between 2 a.m. and noon on Sundays. Sales by drink must stop at midnight on Sunday, except on Christmas Eve, New Year’s Eve or St. Patrick’s Day when they fall on a Sunday.

Alcohol sales rules are included in city land-use ordinances and the Municipal Code, so any changes would require pubic hearings, City Attorney Tim McCausland said.

Mayor Howard Wiggs asked Interim City Manager to schedule a workshop to review alcohol policy so that commissioners can recommend changes and schedule public hearings. Selvage asked that the workshop be held early enough so that the final public hearing on any changes can be held by the commission’s Dec. 7 meeting.

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Barry Friedman founded in 2015 as the culmination of a career in print and digital journalism. Since 1982, he has used the tools of reporting, editing and content curation to help people in Lakeland understand their community better.

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