Harlem city officials are scheduled to vote Monday on an ordinance change that could allow a Harlem bed and breakfast to serve alcohol.
The second reading of the amendment, which would change the way the distance restrictions for alcohol-serving properties are measured, will be held at the city council meeting at 7 p.m.
The change would allow The Acorn Restaurant, at Red Oak Manor, to be eligible to apply for a license to sell alcohol on the premises.
"When we were talking to them (city officials) about it, when we asked for the rezoning of the property, the intent was to have events," said Red Oak co-owner Scott Dean, who also is a county commissioner and former Harlem mayor. "And you couldn't even get a (permit) to have alcohol at an event."
Dean said he and other owners of the bed and breakfast asked city officials to re-examine the ordinance, which requires that an establishment be at least 100 yards from a church building, city park, playground or alcohol treatment facility, or at least 200 yards from a school building.
The restaurant currently does not qualify for an alcohol permit because it is too close to the site of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. One home sits between the front of the two properties on North Louisville Street, but the back of the church property touches Red Oak property.
Distances in the current ordinances are measured from the front door of an establishment to the nearest property line of churches or schools.
But the change would put the ordinance in line with Columbia County and state laws, Harlem city attorney Barry Fleming said.
"When you do that (measure distances in the current ordinance), you get some unusual circumstances popping up," Fleming said. "There is a reason why state law is not written that way."
The change would allow city officials to measure distances from the front door of the licensed establishment to the front door of the church, school or other restricted site.
"They (The Acorn Restaurant) are barely too close if you measure to the property line," Fleming said. "But if you measure from front door to front door, they are the perfect distance away."
Dean said the inability to sell alcohol, such as champagne punch at wedding receptions, has put a damper on the business.
"We lost a couple of events," Dean said, adding that if the change is approved, he'll apply to serve beer and wine from the restaurant. "There have been a couple of things that have had to go somewhere else because we couldn't sell alcohol."
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