Beer and wine drinkers may celebrate City Commission approval of a new ordinance altering the City Code that opens sale of alcoholic goods previously denied by distances from churches, schools, and residential property.
Passed with a single dissenting vote Jan. 6, the change allows “drugstores, convenience stores, and service stations” to sell those alcoholic beverages without limitation by a store location.
Mayor Philip K. Stoddard applauded the economic fairness of the revised ordinance, noting that it would give city businesses a chance to keep up with those in areas outside South Miami municipal borders.
“Such laws are archaic,” said Stoddard, commenting they are a holdover from the ‘blue laws’ passed largely in bygone days to uphold religious standards.
Commissioner Bob Welsh voting against the change said extension of beer and wine alcohol sales could cause an adverse impact to small businesses, especially smaller mom and pop stores. A mall owner might be encouraged to replace smaller businesses with a drugstore, service station or a convenience store “when we’ve already got plenty in South Miami,” he pointed out
“There’s not a shortage of drugstore, convenience stores, or service stations in this city,” said Welsh, citing potential loss of business at a typical South Miami strip mall at S. W. 64 Ave. and Bird Rd., home to businesses like Mesa’s Cigars, Wines & Beers, the Card Cottage, and Fiestas Depot.
“We can’t bring back the eleven businesses that were there where the CVS is,” lamented Welsh, listing Nora’s Juice Bar and Better Families Through Tai-Chi.
“I don’t know that the profitability with respect to beer and wine sales would effectively have made a difference,” countered Stoddard.
Vice Mayor Walter Harris explained that the CVS next to Allen’s Drugs chose the location despite inability to sell alcoholic goods, an indicator that passage of the ordinance revision would have made no difference for \mom and pop stores surviving in that area.
The changes were intended to update regulations, not bring down smaller businesses, observed Commissioner Gabriel Edmond. He added that his approving vote included a promise to take related economic issues under consideration and provide assistance “should the matter become problematic.”