Summerville Town Council approves public alcohol law

SUMMERVILLE -- Drinking beer and wine at special events is now town law.

Town Council on Wednesday unanimously approved the beer and wine law in a final vote. The town will allow people to drink the beverages in public places, as long as the event organizer gets a one-day permit for it.

Meanwhile, council unanimously opposed a law that would have required people who don't live in town to sign up beforehand if they want to speak at meetings. It was a reversal from earlier votes that had split council members.

Councilman Terry Jenkins pulled back from his support of the limitation after studying how similar municipalities handle public comments. He said the town's ordinance needs more work.

Council members roundly agreed.

For the beer and wine law, permits will be granted as an exemption to a town law prohibiting possession of an open container of alcohol in public places.

Surprisingly, no one opposed the law at a public hearing held before the vote.

Downtown business owner Diane Frankenberger said the exemption "will bring a different flavor to town. The world is a big place, and I think it's time Summerville gets a piece of the action."

A second resident asked for clarification of the law and sat down satisfied.

The quiet approval marked one more change of ways in this sometimes staid town. As other Lowcountry communities opened up their public consumption laws to allow the drinks, Summerville for years stuck to its small-town, family oriented traditions.

Mayor Bill Collins proposed the law to boost tourism. The one-day permits will be granted on a case-by-case basis, he said. Other alcohol laws will be enforced.