Hampton approves alcohol ordinance

By Monroe Roark
Times Correspondent

The Hampton City Council approved its new alcohol ordinance that has been in the works for a few months, giving organizers of special events in the city more latitude in serving adult beverages.

The measure that passed at the May 10 regular meeting will allow users of four specific city-owned facilities the opportunity to petition the council for a special alcohol-use permit for a certain event. These will be reviewed by the council on a case-by-case basis.

The facilities approved for this use are the Depot, the old city shop on Tom Eason Drive, the former site of the Forston Library, and an area along Cherry Street.

The old city shop used in the past by the public works department is an outdoor area and was chosen because it is fenced, according to city manager Daryl Dotschay.

The previous library site is not being used at all right now and is under renovation. It was included in the ordinance because of its potential for future use as a meeting facility, Dotschay said.

An earlier version of the proposed new alcohol ordinance came up in February, calling for alcohol to be allowed on public streets and sidewalks during certain city events. The first reading passed with a split vote of 4-3, as Mayor Steve Hutchison broke the tie in a meeting that drew an exceptionally large crowd of citizens on both sides of the issue. The second reading failed in March and this new version was proposed by Councilman Chris Moore.

Also passed at this month’s meeting was the first reading of an ordinance regarding a new Downtown Parking Overlay District. This pertains to existing buildings outside the city’s historic district - a group of properties forming a ring of sorts right outside the Main Street area.

The measure would allow business owners locating in existing buildings to avoid having to provide additional parking where they might otherwise be required to, depending upon the nature of the business. Property owners tearing down and erecting new buildings would be required to abide by all relevant parking regulations, Dotschay said.