Oneonta City Council holds one public hearing, sets two more

The shaded area between Second Avenue East and Railroad Boulevard and First Street South and Fifth Street South represents Oneonta City Council’s proposed entertainment district.

The shaded area between Second Avenue East and Railroad Boulevard and First Street South and Fifth Street South represents Oneonta City Council’s proposed entertainment district.

The first order of business at Oneonta’s Aug. 22 council meeting was to hold a public hearing to discuss the ordinance establishing an entertainment district in downtown Oneonta. (See diagram, A3.)

The entertainment district designation allows any retail alcohol licensee to sell alcoholic beverages for consumption inside or outside the licensee’s premises, as long as the beverage is consumed within the boundaries of the entertainment district. Other provisions:

• alcoholic beverages bought outside the entertainment district cannot be brought into the district.

• only paper or plastic containers are allowed for alcoholic beverages served within the district; glass containers are allowed within the licensee’s outdoor dining areas.

• the licensee may not sell more than one paper or plastic container to a patron leaving the premises, and it is unlawful for any person to leave the premises with more than one container with an alcoholic beverage.

• a person going outside the licensee’s premises with an open container may walk around within the boundaries of the entertainment district, but may not leave the entertainment district carrying the container, cannot step outside the entertainment district, cannot sit in his vehicle parked within the entertainment district while consuming the alcoholic beverage, and cannot take it home for consumption.

• while not specifically detailed in the ordinance, the entertainment district designation rules would apply until midnight, when alcohol sales would cease.

The point of these rules, said city manager Ed Lowe, is to allow licensees the option to host outdoor activities that allow customers leeway to consume alcoholic beverages outdoors on public property. “It really just acts as a limited extension of the licensee’s premises and allows the person to go outside and walk around within the entertainment district, while consuming an alcoholic beverage,” Lowe said. Lowe also said the midnight cutoff hour specified in Oneonta’s original alcohol license ordinance also applies to the entertainment district, and is more restrictive than state law itself, which specifies a 2 a.m. closing time.

The entertainment district ordinance will be submitted to the Alcoholic Beverage Control Board for approval, then returned to the city with suggested amendments. When such changes, if any, are incorporated into the document, it will be presented to the council for adoption.

The council scheduled two public hearings for Sept. 12. The first, at 5 p.m., is a 772 agreement for Zaxby’s restaurant. Under state law, the 772 agreement authorizes the transfer of public funds to a private business as an incentive to do business in the public entity’s jurisdiction. The incentive amount proposed is $150,000, authorized primarily as an offset to the cost of extensive grading and drainage arrangements required for site preparation.

The council also voted to schedule a public hearing at 5:15 p.m. to change the R1G zoning ordinance. Subject of the change is adding a provision for smaller, less expensive houses to be built on lots as small as 7,500 square feet.

Lowe said the change is being proposed because in today’s housing market, more people are looking for smaller, less expensive houses (carriage homes) on smaller, less expensive lots, minimizing both overall cost, as well as lowering maintenance time and expense.