BloomFest beer garden sparks discussion

ROSEBORO — BloomFest is on the horizon for Roseboro, and the city needs to review its current alcohol ordinances on city-owned properties. In addition to this, there is a discussion of a First Friday event where alcohol can be served for a non-profit organization.

“The first thing is the liquor ordinance, and basically our ordinance does not deal with liquor on city property,” Roseboro Mayor Alice Butler said.

City Attorney Sandy Sanderson said it raised concerns about the beer garden planned for BloomFest.

“A lot of it stems from potential liability issues,” Sanderson said. “The city itself will not be a direct seller of alcohol.”

“But you’re always concerned when you’re renting from someone who rides what kind of liability that entails for the lessor.

Sanderson explained that his concerns are that if you’re a purveyor of alcohol, whether it’s at a party where you sell it or even if you have something at home and you’re a social host, there’s a responsibility.

“And you supply alcohol to someone who you know or should have known was drunk or intoxicated at the time you serve them, and then they leave your place, they go out and cause an accident and hurt, kill anybody, you know, coming down the road. Then you can be held responsible for your negligence and serving them that alcohol.

Sanderson said the city is “essentially renting to someone who is going to do it” and he still has concerns.

“The reason is that when you have these cases the liability is usually extremely high.”

Essentially, the damage can exceed the driver’s insurance policy, with the driver owing more than what they are insured for.

“So if I get wind that the person was drunk, then I start looking at – well, where did the booze come from? That’s the first question. What if it’s from my city who sponsored the event like this, so I probably won’t stop at the people we hired, I look at what the city has done.

And so, one of the things that’s in the proposed lease is that we require people who rent to us to have an insurance policy. I recommend that it be at least $3 million and that they name us as the named insured.

The normal city policy will cover them for a good portion as long as they meet the requirements of the insurance company.

“So if we jump through those hoops, we would have a lot of protection in terms of liability.”

In addition to these concerns, Sanderson made it clear that the lack of a policy in place makes it difficult to enforce a restriction. Other municipalities, such as Clinton, have policies that state that only restaurants can serve alcohol outdoors or at specific events. With these caveats, there are regulations in place.

“Since we don’t prohibit alcohol on public property, if we have our event here, then how are the people serving going to be able to cut the drunks?”

“I have a question, how do you determine what the threshold is,” commissioner Ray Clark Fisher asked.

Even that’s a gray area, Sanderson explained, going deeper into explaining a few aspects of the cases he’s seen.

A few signs will be placed around the perimeter of the park stating that there is no alcohol beyond a certain point as well as no alcohol outside. The details of the first Friday are not yet concrete, discussions are ongoing.

No decision was made at the meeting, there should be more discussion and potential adjustments to the city ordinance.

Contact Emily M. Williams at 910-590-9488. Follow her on Twitter at @NCNewsWriter. Follow us on Twitter at @SampsonInd and like us on Facebook.

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