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More Bars Could Mean More Vitality in SLC Neighborhoods

This week, the Salt Lake City Council met to discuss changing some of the city’s zoning laws which could allow businesses that serve alcohol more opportunities. City officials say the changes are important for the vitality of Salt Lake City.
23-year-old Megan Rider has a dream of owning her own wine bar:  “I want to offer really good wines, a selection of local beers, support local farmers, and offer local produce..I feel like it’s a niche market that hasn’t been tapped into." So, when she heard the Salt Lake City Council was meeting to discuss easing the city’s zoning restrictions on bars, taverns and other alcohol establishments, she showed up to listen.

Salt Lake City Council Chair Soren Simonsen says the proposed plan would get rid of the city’s alcohol regulatory map, which has been around for more than three decades.

“Instead our zoning regulatory map becomes the alcohol regulatory map so it’s consolidating everything into a single location to avoid confusion and disparity between those two sets of regulations.”

Simonsen says this could open the door to many more businesses that want to serve alcohol to operate in commercial areas.

“It basically says we’re not clustering alcohol service in three or four locations...this would allow alcohol to be served throughout the city but not necessarily in greater numbers of places that are serving it.”

The state controls alcohol licenses for businesses, and there are not many of those to go around. But, Art Raymond, Spokesman for Salt Lake City says this proposal isn’t about trying to open more bars; it’s about bringing more life to Salt Lake City’s neighborhoods.

“It’s appropriate for us to be putting energy into doing what we can as a city to foster our neighborhood business districts. This certainly is not about opening the flood gate for a resurgence of only alcohol related businesses.”

The Council plans to vote on the issue later this summer.