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How Gainesville's alcohol ordinance is changing
City to allow distilleries, ups limits on sample sizes
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Lauren Williams, general manager at Downtown Drafts in Gainesville, pours a beer for a customer at the growler shop Tuesday, Aug. 21, 2018. - photo by Austin Steele

The Gainesville City Council approved updates to the city’s alcohol ordinance Tuesday, opening up the city to distilleries and allowing growler shops to sell larger sample sizes of beer.

Distilleries, facilities that manufacture distilled spirits, were not previously allowed in the city. Anyone wanting to open a distillery still needs to get a license. Annual licensing fees for distilleries are $3,000, the same for wineries and breweries.

While plans for Gainesville Distilling Co. fell through in June, officials have said other entrepreneurs have reached out about opening distilleries in the city.

The new ordinance also doubles the amount of beer that someone can sample at a growler shop to 48 ounces. For wine, people are still limited to 24 ounces. Whether someone is drinking beer or wine, that means they are limited to three drinks.

Restaurants, or businesses that make at least 50 percent of their sales from food, are unaffected by the new regulations on growler shops.

The ordinance allows businesses to apply for up to 30 special events permits each year, which would allow for outside consumption during the events.

Also, happy hours can now be from 4 to 8 p.m., and at wine tastings, someone can have up to 24 ounces of wine instead of 16 ounces.

Councilman George Wangemann gave the only opposing vote, and Mayor Danny Dunagan cast the fourth affirmative vote. Four votes are required to pass a motion.

Councilman Zack Thompson recused himself when the ordinance came up. He co-owns Tap It, a growler bar on Thompson Bridge Road.

After the meeting, Wangemann said he voted against the changes because he does not think distilleries need to be allowed in the city.

“This new ordinance sets a precedent for Gainesville. It adds distilleries to our ordinance, and it liberalizes an already fairly liberal alcoholic beverage ordinance,” Wangemann said.

Wangemann said he views Gainesville as a family-oriented community and wants to the city to maintain that feel.

“My main concern is that we’re not always looking out for the safety of the people,” he said. “Rather, we’re watching out for those that want to make money.”

The changes to the ordinance went into effect immediately.

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