Patrons to see little effect from alcohol policy

Zelie borough, businesses meet halfway

April 6, 2021 Cranberry Living

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The alcohol ordinance passed last week in Zelienople probably won't change a thing for most residents and guests.

Matthew Edwards, president of the Zelienople Area Business Association, said the majority of the requirements under the ordinance — such as applying for permits and carrying alcohol liability insurance — are placed on businesses or individuals seeking to hold an event, including alcohol on borough-owned property.

“The general public and visitors are probably not going to notice a difference,” Edwards said. “What has been done is there's a little more due diligence that needs to be done in terms of getting a permit.”

Edwards noted this was something he agreed was necessary.

Some people thought the ordinance was an “alcohol ban,” though it is not. In more concrete terms, the ordinance really won't affect the borough's bigger events that include alcohol.

“This is the biggest question that we've been seeing on social media: What about things like the Open Air Market or Horse Trading Days or the tents over the summer?” Edwards said. “Well, we've already applied for and received a permit for those events. The only thing this would really stop is something that wasn't happening anyway, which is people sitting in a parking lot drinking alcohol.”

Although Edwards voiced his — and by way of proxy several borough businesses' — opposition to the proposal when it was first brought up in late February, he said the businesses and the borough had some back-and-forth on the text and extent of the ordinance's provisions.

When it was first proposed, the ordinance forbade alcohol on “public access properties,” which would include things like sidewalks. The ordinance's final version, however, strictly limits its provisions to properties owned by the borough, including parking lots, ball fields and recreational areas.

Edwards said that came from both the borough and businesses discussing their goals and what they were willing to concede. In February, police Chief Jim Miller said Zelienople wanted to reduce its potential liability with regard to events that include alcohol. That, to Edwards and area business owners, indicated the ordinance could be narrowed with the borough's goal still accomplished and the businesses unharmed.

“They presented an alternative proposal at that meeting, and that alternative proposal was almost exactly what was approved, ultimately,” Edwards said.

Through negotiation, he said, the borough and business association were able to meet halfway.

“It was a great example of the borough listening to the feedback that they got and coming up with a solution that met everybody's needs and calmed everyone's concerns,” he said.

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Alex J. Weidenhof

Alex J. Weidenhof