Decatur City Council Approves ‘Open Container Zone’

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DECATUR, Ala.(WHNT) - Strolling the sidewalk with a cold brew in hand is now legal in part of Decatur.

Decatur City Council members unanimously voted to approve an ordinance Monday night which allows open containers of beer and other alcohol in the Bank Street entertainment district. Enthusiastic applause by audience members immediately followed the decision, with no votes or speakers against the new ordinance.

The newly formed entertainment district comprises businesses in and around the Bank Street area, and is the result of a law passed by the Alabama Legislature last year. That law allows Alabama cities to designate two different entertainment districts of up to half a mile across within a municipality's borders.

Council members told WHNT News 19 that loosening the leash on alcohol consumption in the Bank Street area will have a positive economic impact downtown.

"We are showing people that we are dedicated to downtown," said City Councilman Chuck Ard, who voted for the ordinance. "I think it will help bring in young people. I think it will provide an atmosphere where people will want to come downtown, and I'm hoping it will pull more retailers in."

Open containers will be permitted in the new district as soon as new public boundary markers are put in place, but there are still some restrictions. The new law lists open container hours as 4 p.m. through 1 a.m. Monday through Thursday, and noon to 1 a.m. Friday through Sunday.

There's no word yet on where the second open container zone in Decatur will go. Officials said several businesses have already lobbied council members to be included in the yet to be named district.

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