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West Valley City Journal

City matches state code with restaurants serving alcohol

Nov 03, 2017 02:35PM ● By Travis Barton

The entrance of the planned Mariscos restaurant will be moved to face 3500 South, distancing its entryway from Esperanza Elementary (seen in the distance). (Travis Barton/City Journals)

Restaurants that serve alcohol may now do so if their establishment is more than 300 feet away from a “community location” rather than the 600 feet it was before. 

Other alcoholic outlets still remain at 600 feet.  

This change, passed by the West Valley City Council in September in a 6-1 vote, means city code now matches state code which was modified in May to loosen restrictions on restaurants. The wording in the ordinance means if state code changes again, the city’s code would adjust to whatever the state does. 

Jodi Knapp, WVC’s zoning administrator, said the city normally matches the Department of Alcohol and Beverage Control (DABC) regulations in this regard, but hadn’t gotten around to it until a restaurant owner, Sandy Mejia, came forward due to her prospective restaurant’s proximity to Esperanza Elementary. 

“Community locations” were deemed by the state as churches, schools, public parks, public playgrounds or libraries. 

Mejia owns Mariscos, a Mexican restaurant at 3500 S. 3010 West and intends to open a new location at 3500 S. 4874 West. The new location would share a parking lot with the elementary school. Mejia said the entrance to the restaurant will be moved to face 3500 South. 

The city is allowed to restrict further than state code, but councilmembers felt it was unnecessary. 

Councilman Steve Vincent said during the Sept. 12 city council meeting that coming under state code avoids confusion. 

“I don’t think there’s a real danger to our students with a restaurant that serves a drink,” Vincent said before later adding how the vacant restaurant has been an “eyesore” for years. “It attracts homeless people that camp around it so I think seeing something happen there that’s going to be positive for the area is a good thing.” 

Councilman Steve Buhler added he doesn’t think it’s a good thing for businesses for the city to be more restrictive than the state. 

Mayor Ron Bigelow, the lone dissenting vote, said in a previous study meeting prior to the vote that just because the legislature changed the state code, doesn’t mean it’s a good idea. 

Bigelow, who opposed the change when it came before the legislature, said he’d like to see the city be more restrictive and in this regard, would always err on the side of “great caution.” 

He said he felt the legislature made the change for the wrong reasons, noting he’s worked very closely with Mothers Against Drunk Driving in the past.