Currently the alcohol ban encompasses the buildings the city rents for events. However, in the past, it has allowed alcohol to be served by some of its renters, city staff said.
At a City Council meeting Tuesday, City Clerk Shane Smith talked to the council about changing the ordinance to allow alcohol to be served by renters.
Councilman Travis Crowe said he didn’t want to put the city at risk of being sued because of an accident involving alcohol after an event in a city building.
“I’m not trying to take it away from them, but I just want to see that we’re not going to be liable,” Crowe said.
Smith said there is no way around that. He said he checked with the city’s insurance company and found that the city could be subject to a lawsuit if an incident occurred at one of the events, or stemming from one of the events, whether alcohol is served at the event or not.
Councilman Shannon Roberts said alcohol being served at an event can increase the chances of an accident happening, though.
The city does have insurance to help cover issues like that, Smith said. The city can protect itself further by having renters sign agreements requiring them to get additional insurance, he added.
City attorney Patrick Casey said if the city leaves the ordinance as it is, it needs to enforce it.
“The worst thing you can do is to have it as it’s banned, it’s not allowed, and then look the other way,” Casey said. “What we’ve got going now is probably the worst case scenario.”
Mayor Rudy Rooks agreed.
“We need to make everything right,” Rooks said.
Smith said he would be working with the Parks and Recreation Department Director Tammy Perry to update the rental policy including a possible amendment to the alcohol ordinance allowing alcohol on city property. He would have a plan to present to the council at its next work session on June 25, Smith said.
In other business the council members:
— Unanimously approved the zoning changes it needs to bring all its businesses into compliance with city ordinances. The changes will allow a more diverse array of businesses in the general business districts.
For instance, the new zoning rules allow restaurants with drive-through windows and businesses that sell alcohol. Under the previous zoning rules such businesses were only allowed in a small section of Heflin in the downtown area which is currently zoned a central business district. Most of the city’s business districts are zoned as general business including the areas bordering Interstate 20.
— Unanimously approved an ordinance to participate in the state’s tax-free holiday in August for school supplies and clothing. The ordinance approves the participation every year rather than just August 2013.
— Unanimously approved appointing Birmingham-based LBYD, Inc., as the city’s consulting engineer. The city would only have to pay for the services it used, said Rooks. Kevin Brown of Heflin is a principal in the company.
Staff writer Laura Camper 256-463-2872. On Twitter @LCamper_Star.