Troy to consider entertainment district downtown

Published 8:02 pm Tuesday, September 24, 2019

People may soon be able to sip alcohol on the Square on special occasions if the Troy City Council votes to establish an entertainment district downtown.

The council discussed an ordinance brought forward Tuesday to establish the entertainment district, which it discussed heavily in its executive committee session.

Immediately, councilmember Wanda Moultry, District 5, proposed making changes to the district boundaries to exclude churches from the district.

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“In 2010 the state of Alabama passed an act allowing the establishment of entertainment districts,” said Melissa Sanders, planning and zoning administrator. “Its intent is to host more events downtown and create more vibrancy; it adds to the pedestrian experience.”

Many cities in Alabama have already established an entertainment district, some of which remain open year-round and some which limit the district to certain occasions.

The district was proposed to the council Tuesday as the latter, only being created during certain events which must go through an application process.

“We did this to protect the downtown area and our citizens,” Sanders aid. “This will give us the opportunity to try it for special events instead of opening year-round.”

If the entertainment district were established, residents would be able to openly carry and drink alcoholic beverages from licensed alcohol sellers within the district, which must be in approved cups to signify compliance.

One of the questions brought up among the council members was the issue of noise and whether the noise ordinance needs to be updated to be consistent and allow for more noise in the entertainment district during the events.

As presented, the entertainment district would not establish any exception to the noise ordinance; rather, the applicant for the special event would have to request a separate noise permit. In that case, the permit would only apply to the event and not the entire entertainment district.

Troy Police Chief Randall Barr expressed concern to the council that it would be difficult to enforce noise violations within the entertainment district and council members agreed, suggesting that all areas of the entertainment district should be allowed the same noise exceptions when the district is open.

Mayor Jason Reeves said downtown businesses have been asking the city to look into establishing an entertainment district since 2012.

“There were certain things we had to do and certain places we had to reach before we could do that,” Reeves said. “This is the first shot we’ve had at it, so it’s wide open to whatever (the council) prefers to do. It’s the council’s responsibility to administer it and enforce it.”

There were also questions about what this means for downtown band parties where residents had “been encouraged to bring their own beer.”

Reeves said that nobody should be bringing their own alcohol to any events on the Square, noting that it is against the law, whether the entertainment district is established or not.

If the entertainment district is established, no alcohol can be brought into or out of the district; the alcohol must be purchased at the authorized vendors within the district and all alcohol must be consumed within the district. It cannot be taken outside of the district and it must remain in the approved cups, which will be distributed by the vendors within the district.

The Troy City Council will meet again on Tuesday, October 8 and could potentially take action on the ordinance then, or table the item for further discussion.

Editor’s note: Other action taken by the council during Tuesday’s meeting will be covered in a following story.