Westminster council OKs alcohol at city building

Vote allows arts group to serve drinks at opening

February 11, 2003|By Athima Chansanchai | Athima Chansanchai,SUN STAFF

When the Carroll County Arts Council celebrates the grand opening of its headquarters in the restored Carroll Theatre, revelers will be able to raise wine glasses in a toast - something they wouldn't have been able to do without an action taken last night by Westminster's Common Council.

Council members cast three votes, with one abstention, to approve a compromise measure that allows alcoholic beverages to be served at the city-owned Carroll Theatre building.

The ordinance that was approved had been amended from its original form, which would have allowed alcohol to be consumed in other city buildings, such as City Hall and Longwell Municipal Center, which houses the city's parks and recreation department.

Until last night's vote, alcohol was prohibited from all city-owned property.

The push to allow alcohol to be served under some circumstances was made by former Councilman L. Gregory Pecoraro, who was the city's liaison to the arts council. He introduced the proposal at his last council meeting Jan. 13, saying that the arts council would like to serve alcohol at some of its receptions.

The arts council has a 30-year lease with the city on the restored theater, which the city bought in 2000.

The original, less-restrictive proposal, introduced Jan. 13, generated debate at the council's meeting Jan. 27.

Councilwoman Suzanne P. Albert, who abstained from the vote last night, had raised concerns about opening spaces that conduct city business to the provision. She said that the city should advocate a healthier lifestyle and not condone the consumption of alcohol on any of its properties.

The council decided at its meeting Jan. 27 to defer a decision until it met last night to allow new Councilman Robert P. Wack to familiarize himself with the issue and to allow other council members to discuss the proposal.

The ordinance that was approved prohibits alcohol from being consumed in buildings occupied by city government. The ordinance does not affect the prohibition of alcohol at city-owned parks and open spaces.

The arts council considers the option to serve alcohol a major factor in its ability to rent out its facility, said Sandy Oxx, executive director.

It also is a tradition with the group to serve wine at its gallery openings and events such as the annual Festival of Wreaths. Oxx has stated repeatedly that the arts council will use the option sparingly.

Oxx said that one event at which alcohol service is planned is the members-only open house April 5, one of three events that make up the grand opening.

"I can think of no better occasion to raise a toast," she said.

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