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Debate stalls on Ybor City wet zoning

A Tampa City Council member's plan for a moratorium on new zonings wins no support.

DONG-PHUONG NGUYEN
Published September 17, 2004

TAMPA - If Tampa City Council member Shawn Harrison had his way, no more Ybor City businesses would be allowed to sell alcohol any time soon.

In order to change Ybor's image as a bar and nightclub mecca, Harrison suggested during Thursday's City Council meeting that a moratorium be set on granting new wet zonings for businesses that are not restaurants.

However, Harrison couldn't get support from the three other council members in attendance, halting debate on how to transform the historic district's image.

Instead, the council agreed to wait for a "vision statement" for Ybor City to be crafted by a consultant who has not yet been hired. Council members Mary Alvarez, Rose Ferlita and Kevin White said they, too, want change, but Harrison's suggestion was too drastic, too soon.

"Ybor is slowly dying again in the daytime," White said.

"With the amount of bars we have, it's taken Ybor into the wrong direction. I would be in support of the moratorium, but not at this time," he said.

The issue first came up in July, when City Council members asked city officials to explore wet zone restriction options in order to attract more tourists and families to Ybor City.

One of several options that a group studying the problem offered: the City Council could limit the number of bar/lounge-type establishments to a certain number per block.

Their research unveiled several statistics:

Of the 593 businesses in Ybor City, 17 percent, or 103, have wet zonings to sell alcohol.

Of those 103 businesses, 69 are allowed to sell alcoholic beverages for consumption on and off the premises.

Only 10 of the 103 businesses are associated with restaurants.

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