Bozeman commissioners drop restrictions on certain alcohol sales

Bozeman city commissioners voted unanimously to ease restrictions on businesses selling alcohol near downtown.

Bozeman city commissioners voted unanimously Monday night to make it easier for restaurants to sell alcohol closer to churches and schools. The city rolled back an ordinance that's been in place for at least 80 years, said Deputy Mayor Chris Mehl.

Mehl told NBC Montana, for the past eight decades, city code meant businesses selling beer and wine could not sell alcohol if they were within 600 feet of and on the same street as a church or school. He said commissioners voted to drop those restrictions, but only for businesses in the downtown area -- near Main Street and Seventh Avenue.

Restaurants in the area that are properly licensed with a beer and wine amendment license can now sell alcohol regardless of how close they are to churches or schools.

"It just means that restaurants are more likely to be able to survive downtown or move," Mehl said. "Or if we grow, more restaurants could come into the area."

Mehl said there is a cap on the number of beer and wine licenses throughout the city, so this change will allow for more flexibility, not more businesses that sell beer and wine. He told NBC Montana the city commission will review how the new ordinance is affecting restaurants downtown in October or November.

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