Lengthy debate yields no decision on alcohol establishments staying open until 2 a.m.

Two hours, 120 minutes, 7,200 seconds- is it really that long?

Last Tuesday, Oct. 6, the Huntsville City Council held a meeting to discuss extending the hours allowed to sell alcoholic beverages from 12:00 a.m. to 2:00 a.m. and the meeting was adjourned without a final decision being made.

The proposed Ordinance 2009-59 says that any alcohol establishment must obtain a Late Hours permit to sell mixed alcoholic beverages, beer, and wine from midnight to 2:00 a.m.

There were many people present at the meeting in favor and opposing the new ordinance, but the main concern for the final decision is whether or not the issue is ethical or not. Many argued that it is an ethical issue because these students that drink until 12:00 a.m. leave and drive to Conroe or other towns to continue drinking at the bars that stay open till 2:00 a.m. This presents a problem because students are then intoxicated on the road at 12:00 and then even more intoxicated on the roads returning home at 2:00.

Co-owner of Doc’s Place Saloon, Mona Peck, said that she is in favor of this ordinance because students and adults could stay safely in Huntsville and drink, and not have to drive 20 minutes to and from Conroe, increasing their chances of getting into an accident.

Another ethical issue is that after the bars close, if students do not go to Conroe, then they go to house parties, where drinking is not monitored. Citizens argued that, by staying in the bars, students can be monitored closely and even receive a ride home if needed.

Others said that economics are involved in this issue because, by going to Conroe, these students are taking their money elsewhere, instead of feeding it to Huntsville. It would also benefit smaller alcohol establishments by extending their hours, which would give them more time to take in revenues that could potentially be used to hire more workers, also benefiting the residents of Huntsville. This ordinance would probably also draw more potential students into Sam Houston State because, let’s face it, partying is a big part of college.

By passing this ordinance, some Huntsville residents felt that the city would be encouraging drinking and thus, alcoholism.

“It would be a disgrace to the city of Huntsville to approve any ordinance that would extend the drinking hours for these young people,” R.M. Fowler said. “If they cannot have enough to drink before 2:00 in the morning, then there is something wrong. I am sure the parents of these students did not send them to school to learn how to be alcoholics.”

The vote on this issue was postponed to a later date because the council decided that they wanted more hard evidence and statistics of the possible outcome of this ordinance, plus a councilmember was not present at the meeting. The council plans to research the effects that this decision has made on other college towns and how they handled voting on this ordinance. The date for the voting on the ordinance is currently unknown.

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