Downtown Gearhart

Gearhart City Council tabled consideration of amendments to downtown business zoning code until the new year.

Wording in the commercial zoning amendment permitting to-go alcohol sales at neighborhood cafes delayed approval of a long-discussed update to Gearhart’s downtown zoning code.

“I don’t want my children to see people staggering out of a bar,” City Councilor Kerry Smith said at last Wednesday’s City Council meeting..

Smith was referring to language in the amendments that would allow take-out alcohol sales by neighborhood cafes, the product of new language designed to clean up outdated code language, make downtown commercial zoning less restrictive and encourage new businesses.

“Neighborhood cafes are defined as a business devoted primarily to the serving of prepared food where food is consumed while customers are seated at tables and having no more than 1,300 square feet of eating area,” the amendment states. “Food and beverage may also be sold for takeout. Service may include alcohol sales on premise or to-go, where licensed by OLCC (Oregon Liquor Control Commission).”

If the amendments are approved as written, Gearhart could open the door for takeout alcohol sales and subsequent public displays of drunkenness, Smith said.

“I don’t want that for Gearhart. If I have a legacy here, I don’t want that to be part of what I leave behind,” he said.

If adopted, the amendments could bring outdoor and sidewalk seating to neighborhood markets and limit chain or formula use businesses with four or more locations.

The amendments would eliminate restrictions that require neighborhood cafes to be open 11 months a year and lift the 10 p.m. closing time.

City councilors voted to table the ordinance for one month while staff edits language.

As that portion of the code heads to review, Traci Williams, owner the Sweet Shop, asked for further review of the amendments overall.

“I wish you guys would just push pause and get it right,” Williams said.

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