Inverness Government Center mug

Tuesday's city council meeting begins at 5:30 p.m. at Inverness Government Center, 212 W. Main St., Inverness.

Saying setbacks are “outdated obstacles” to commercial growth, Inverness City Manager Frank DiGiovanni is asking the city council to do away with an ordinance that places minimum distances between bars and schools, libraries, playgrounds and churches.

The city council will consider the ordinance change during its meeting at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday at city hall, 212 W. Main St., Inverness.

DiGiovanni said setbacks between alcohol establishments and family centers, such as parks, daycare facilities and hospitals, were born in the 1980s amid concerns that “seedy” bars could infiltrate neighborhoods.

Frank DiGiovanni mug

Inverness City Manager Frank DiGiovanni

Today, he said, that is no longer an issue and is keeping business owners from opening stores, restaurants or hotels in the city.

“It’s time to deal with this,” DiGiovanni said. “We’ve been having these conversations for over 10 years. Setbacks were an absolutely necessary thing to have in the past. Society’s changed. The Inverness community has changed. It’s no longer an obstacle that’s tolerable.”

The current ordinance requires separations of 100 feet to 300 feet between bars and eight categories, including churches, hospitals, schools and playgrounds. The setback is less for restaurants that sell alcohol.

The proposed ordinance eliminates all the setbacks. In its place are prohibitions against alcohol sales and consumption in the city parks unless specific permitted approval is granted by the city.

The proposal also prohibits alcohol use at school-sponsored sporting events.

DiGiovanni, in the agenda memo to council members, said alcohol-related setbacks are slowing commercial growth in the city.

“Some regulations of the past no longer have value for the present or future, and have become an obstacle,” he wrote. “We can ill afford to lose investment due to outdated obstacles.”

Asked in an interview if the city has lost potential business because of the setbacks, he said yes.

“I don’t know if that’s a luxury moving forward,” he said.

DiGiovanni said alcohol setbacks were put in place during “the Joe Redner scare,” referring to the Tampa adult entertainment business owner who tried unsuccessfully to open a nude lounge in Homosassa.

“That part of society has changed dramatically,” he said.

Tuesday’s council agenda is a busy one. It includes:

• final reading on a voluntary annexation of the Eden New Horizon property. Citrus County officials have objected, saying the annexation doesn’t fit the law’s criteria. City officials say it does, and the matter may end up before a judge to decide.

• the presentation of the 2018 city audit.

• a vote on an update of the personnel manual.

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Contact Chronicle reporter Mike Wright at 352-563-3228 or mwright@chronicleonline.com.

(4) comments

RegB

Open up Inverness to business and let people decide with their pocket book. Times change and people today, mostly retired in Inverness, prefer to decide for themselves if they want to support an establishment.

MichaelTrombley

These alcohol setbacks sound more moral and religious-based and do not belong in our laws.

DavidWalls

One should not compromise their values to bend with society just because "Society has changed" like Giovanni suggests. Throwing Family Values out the window like Giovanni wants to do in the pursuit of money never ends well. It leads to the moral decay of culture, and attracts unscrupulous characters.

Giovanni used the example of a nude bar in Homsassa not opening up. Really? Is that the kind of business we want in Citrus County? Women, do you really want that kind of temptation down the street for your husbands? How about your teenage son? Fathers, do you really want that kind of an example to be acceptable behavior for your daughters?

It is not OK to put aside our values in the pursuit of money.

Let us remember what was said in 1Timothy 6:10 "For the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil..."

If Mr. Giovanni does not hold these values, then he does not hold the values of Citrus County, and therefore, does not have the best interests in mind for Citrus County. As a result, he should immediately announce his resignation.

GLADYSK

Find it hard to believe that present law is such a detriment to business.. and that it is impacting growth to such an extent

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