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New Ordinance Designates Areas for Special Event Alcohol Sales

by on August 09, 2017 12:07 PM

State College Borough Council this week adopted a new ordinance for special events, codifying the existing review process and defines specific areas for alcohol sales and consumption during certain approved events.

Though borough staff regularly receive requests, which are then sent to council for approval or denial, to use public property for special events, no ordinance previously existed to regulate the process.

The key section for debate was for alcohol consumption and sales. The final ordinance approved by council restricts alcohol to beer, wine and cider only at events sponsored or co-sponsored by the Downtown State College Improvement District. For the past two years, the DSCID's Happy Valley Music Fest has been approved to have outdoor beer pubs in the Garner Street Lot and on Locust Lane.

Under the ordinance, alcohol sales and open container exceptions associated with special events will be considered in two defined areas. One area is bounded by College Avenue to the north, Atherton Street to the west, Beaver Avenue to the south and Sowers Street to the east.

The other area is essentially the 200 block of South Allen Street in the area bounded by Highland Alley to the north, Foster Avenue to the south, and D Alley to the west.

That area was amended from the initial proposal which would have extended west to Fraser Street and included Sidney Friedman Park. The inclusion of the park was met with objections from community and council members. If the park was fenced off for alcohol sales, it would be inaccessible for children and other community members to use, said Highlands Civic Association President Mark Huncik.

"The biggest concern for the neighborhood is that the park is a public park. It is public open space," Huncik said. "It’s one of the few green spaces and open spaces within the Highlands and it’s a very large throughway for people walking and biking from one part of the Highlands to the downtown."

Huncik added that it would have given deference to one organization for the use of a public park.

Council member Teresa Lafer voted against the ordinance because of its inclusion of a policy to permit alcohol sales at special events, even if limited to specific types, areas and events.

"I don’t care if it’s beer. I don’t care if it’s wine. I don’t care if it’s cider," Lafer said. "If you want to drink, you can drink at home or go to one of the local bars… Open containers are a problem. They are a problem anywhere you have them. For us as a borough, for the DID as our district for business, to encourage people to wander around with open containers of alcohol when we have been fighting for at least a full generation the problem of severe alcoholic misbehavior is as far as I am concerned totally and completely incomprehensible that we would back this."

Council member Catherine Dauler said beer sales at Happy Valley Music Fest have been well controlled and council member David Brown said requiring council approval for special events, including those with alcohol, provides an extra safeguard.

Council President Tom Daubert suggested requests for alcohol sales shouldn't be limited to the DSCID, but did not offer an amendment to the ordinance.

The ordinance requires that, if an event with alcohol is approved by council, signs must be posted stating that alcohol is prohibited beyond the permitted area; that each alcohol serving station have a Responsible Alcohol Management Program-certified server; that attendees consuming alcohol be given an item to wear to clearly identify they are of legal drinking age and that cannot be transferred to another person; that alcohol sales end at least 45 minutes before the end of the event; and that a non-alcoholic beverage option be offered.

Council can impose additional conditions upon approval. A separate section of the ordinance requires all special events to provide adequate security as determined by the State College police chief.

Geoff Rushton is managing editor for Contact him at or find him on Twitter at @geoffrushton.
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