New ordinance could expand outdoor drinking rules in Shawnee

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SHAWNEE, Kan. — As more people become comfortable returning to in-person events, officials from the City of Shawnee are considering a big change for events being hosted downtown. 

Monday the Shawnee City Council will vote on whether or not to establish a Common Consumption Area (CCA). 

If approved by the council, the CCA would cover approximately four square blocks of the city that would allow residents to purchase alcohol from area businesses and consume it on public property. 

Proposed Common Consumption Area boundary map.

Lauren Grashoff, ‎Neighborhood Planner for the City of Shawnee, said the ordinance would limit public consumption to special events and events hosted by the city.

Under Kansas statue, if a CCA is established any street or alleyway within the designated area must be blocked off from traffic while alcohol is being consumed.

“As long as the streets and roadways are closed within the common consumption area it does allow for more movement of people with open containers,” Grashoff said. 

The CCA would allow alcohol to be consumed in a designated area from 9 a.m. until 11 p.m during special events. Grashoff said if the ordinance is approved, the boundaries of the CCA would need to be clearly marked. 

“It can be things like a physical barrier, maybe a roadblock or cones or maybe tapping it off. It can also be something like signage,” Grashoff said.  

Courtney Servaes is the owner and founder of Servaes Brewing Company, a microbrewery located inside the proposed area. Servaes said establishing a CCA could help give area businesses an opportunity to interact with shoppers. 

“It will be kind of a great way for us to come to the people and be able to show people our product that maybe have not been in, especially since COVID,” Servaes said. 

Residents will not be allowed to bring outside alcohol into the CCA, or take alcohol outside of the designated area. Grashoff said the proposed ordinance would allow businesses with the proper Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) to create patios or sidewalk cafes to allow for outdoor alcohol consumption.  

Businesses that choose to establish a patio or sidewalk café to serve alcohol will need to mark their own property boundaries to indicate where alcohol is and is not allowed. If approved the ordinance would allow businesses with the proper permits to maintain the outdoor service area through December 6, when the proposed ordinance is slated to expire.

“We’re still practicing social distancing and trying to keep everyone safe, but I think we also are trying to find some sort of middle ground where we can have things back to normal, as close as we can,”  Servaes said. 

Servaes Brewing Company will celebrate its second anniversary this weekend.

Servaes said she felt starting with an outdoor event could help people in the community feel more comfortable with the return of in-person city events and festivals.  

“The outdoor options is to just at least get people to sort of put their toe in the water and see how things feel,” Servaes said. 

If approved by the council, the City of Shawnee will purchase a $100 permit from the state to establish the consumption area. Businesses within the consumption area will need apply to participate, but Grashoff said there would be no fee for participating businesses. 

The Shawnee City Council will vote on establishing a consumption area during the next regular meeting on April 26. 

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