The City Commission this week adopted Ordinance No. 3209 amending sections of the city code of McPherson regarding special event permits for the sale of alcoholic liquor or cereal malt beverages. This means that local events now have an opportunity to apply for a permit that will allow them to serve beer or alcohol in public places within the McPherson city limits.
This change stems from requests over the last several years, most recently from the organizers of the Festival of Cultures, who are wanting to add a beer garden to the local event, formerly known as the Scottish Festival, which has taken place at McPherson's Lakeside park every September for over 20 years.
At Monday's city commission meeting, City Administrator Nick Gregory explained how the ordinance will allow the city commissioners to review the permit applications on a case-by-case basis.
“What essentially this ordinance does is allow alcoholic liquor or cereal malt beverages in designated areas upon the approval of the city commission for specific events,” said Gregory.
The ordinance spells out everything a special event organizer needs to consider if they're wanting to apply for this type of permit.
“It lays out the guidelines for selling, serving, dispensing, possessing, and consumption in public places,” Gregory said. “It creates a designated area. It lays out a number of security issues that would be required of someone wishing to get a special event permit. It lays out the time frame of how long they can have the event; it puts deadlines on how late in the evening the group can serve, setting that at 8:00 pm...”
Gregory went on to explain to the commissioners how this ordinance will allow them to consider the different types of alcohol an event is wanting to serve, whether it's 3.2 beer, hard liquor, or something in between.
“We've talked about a beer garden; we've talked about the ability to sell strong beer as an option out there, but at the same time, not allowing hard liquor. This gives you the option to make that decision based on individual licenses that come before you.”
City Attorney Jeff Houston was there to explain how this ordinance gives the city the opportunity to decide what kinds of beer and alcohol may be served at special events that otherwise isn't spelled out under state law.
“Under state licensing,you have cereal malt beverage or alcoholic liquor. You don't have a specific category for a strong beer; strong beer would fall under alcohol,” Houston explained. “So if the commission for a specific event wants to say, 'Strong beer is okay, but we don't want you selling vodka,' you can limit it to strong beer.”
The city commissioners voted to adopt the ordinance by a vote of 2-1, with Mayor Tom Brown voting against.
City Commissioner Bob Moore wanted to clarify that this ordinance doesn't necessarily give a liquor license to anybody, which still needs to be applied for through the proper channels.
This ordinance also has nothing to do with the recent ordinance modification allowing cereal malt beverages to be served on Sundays at Turkey Creek Golf Course.
A $250 fee is associated with the new special event permit that would need to be paid at the time of application.
A complete copy of this ordinance can be found on the city's website at mcpcity.com, or by stopping by the Municipal Center at 400 E. Kansas Ave. in McPherson.