People will be able to walk around with an alcoholic beverage in a restricted area of downtown Casper this summer after city council on Tuesday passed on third reading a series of amendments to the city's ordinance about liquor licenses.

The approval of this and other revisions to the city's detailed and complicated liquor license code capped a months-long process by the city attorney and city staff.

The overall amendment had 13 provisions including microbrewery and winery permits authorizing permit holders to brew or manufacture those products for on-premises and limited off-premises personal consumption; special malt beverage permits and applications; and flexibility for liquor dealers to modify their business plans.

The revised the code also sets a firm deadline for liquor license holders to submit applications, with the potential loss or "abandonment" of the license if it arrived at city hall 11 days after the due date of the second Monday in December.

The open container issue had generated the most discussion in recent months.

It allows for the creation of a district in which an open container is permissible between the Friday before Memorial Day to Labor Day. The council agreed to have the district in the area shown in the map above.

Some of the requirements for having open containers in the district include customers having wristbands or hand stamps, using only clear plastic cups with an identifying logo of the vendor, and no outside alcohol allowed in the open container area. The city council can change these requirements.

Council member Ken Bates asked, and City Manager Carter Napier affirmed, whether the open container amendment would require overtime pay for police officers when open container hours are in effect.

Police Chief Keith McPheeters said earlier this year that overtime for officers patrolling the open container area could cost the city up to $25,000.

Bates suggested the amendment go into effect in 2021 because the city is facing drastic budget cuts and it would be imprudent to spend money on overtime.

Steve Cathey proposed dropping the open container part of the larger amendment, but council disagreed.

Bates also proposed delaying effective date of the open container part of the overall amendment, but council disagreed with that, too.

On the other hand, the increased activity for bars and restaurants in the open container area could boost more business downtown with more sales and sales tax revenues, according to proponents of the open container area.

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