OKEECHOBEE — The Okeechobee City Council relaxed restrictions on the sale of liquor by the glass on Sunday after a public hearing Tuesday.
Sales of liquor by the glass will be allowed in restaurants beginning at 1 p.m. on Sunday. No package sales will be allowed. The city will not impose a permit fee.
Councilman Noel Chandler said people who want to drink alcohol will drink alcohol no matter how they voted.
“We can’t give in to everybody who wants to change things. We were here first and we should maintain our values,” he said.
Mayor Dowling Watford said a permit would be required without a fee. Liquor stores or grocery stores would still not be allowed to sell any liquor on Sunday.
Restaurants would be allowed to serve liquor by the glass starting at 1 p.m. on Sunday. Regulations at grocery stores and others with liquor licenses would remain the same.
Councilman Gary Ritter said this is not a lifestyle issue. He said restaurants pay enough fees.
“We are here to help our businesses succeed and not put roadblocks in their way,” he said.
First Baptist Church presented a letter of opposition to the ordinance change.
The letter mentioned the claim that Okeechobee had more morals than the rest of the country.
Owner of Parrott Island Grill Anita Nunez said she felt it would be safer for motorists and pedestrians if they could go to any city restaurant rather than having to drive into the county.
“Alcohol is already being served. Everybody that drinks is not an alcoholic,” she said.
The liquor ordinance was approved 5-0.
In other actions:
• The council approved a three-year contract for cleaning services with Scott’s Quality Cleaning for $21,735 per year. City Hall would be cleaned twice per week by two employees working a total of 32 hours per week.
• Mayor Watford received an award for 12 years of service to the Treasure Coast League of Cities.
• Tommy Clay was reappointed as regular member and Jeffrey Fadley as alternative member to represent the city on the Okeechobee Utility Authority Board.
• The council returned a 2006 Ford Crown Victoria to the sheriff’s office.
• The Raulerson family offered to donate the property that houses the primitive Baptist Church on S.W. Third Avenue to the city. The council appeared interested in the property. They agreed to pursue a title search on the property as the first step to a possible donation of the property.
Charles M. Murphy is a staff writer for the Okeechobee News