Selbyville to host public hearing on restaurants, sale of alcohol

The Town of Selbyville is hoping to reduce crime and improve safety through some new regulations on restaurants and the sale of alcohol. Residents are being invited to a public hearing at town hall on Monday, Dec. 5, at 7 p.m. to discuss a proposed amendment to the Selbyville Zoning Code.

The amendments to Chapter 200 would serve several purposes: to define bar, restaurant, nightclub and cocktail lounge; to limit the hours each day during which alcoholic beverages may be sold; to prohibit stand-up consumption of alcoholic beverages; to create a licensing process for restaurants; to allow existing restaurants an exception for nonconformance; and to provide for the enforcement of those rules.

Many towns have codes and regulations to define the restaurant industry, said Robert Dickerson, town administrator. Selbyville, he said, is catching up and preparing for entrepreneurs who may want to open businesses there in the future.

The proposal officially began with the mayor and council’s noticing that late-night alcohol sales at bars and nightclubs seemed to attract patrons who “congregate and display illegal and offensive conduct, including, but not limited to, fighting and committing acts of violence,” the amendment notes in stating the legislative intent. The police department must accordingly dedicate extra time and manpower to these situations.

Therefore, the town council is seeking to classify restaurants, define restaurants’ use of alcohol and prohibit the stand-up consumption of alcohol.

Under the ordinance, alcoholic beverages could not be sold between the hours of 11 p.m. and 9 a.m. within the corporate limits of Selbyville by holders of Delaware Alcoholic Beverage Control Commission licenses. Onsite consumption of alcohol would be prohibited between 11:30 p.m. and 9 a.m.

Officially, businesses would primarily operate as restaurants, serving food, with supplemental alcohol sales. Their primary purpose may not be alcohol.

Restaurants would be any establishments where food and drink are prepared, served and consumed at the counter or table from which they were ordered, via menu. Over half of gross sales must come from food sales. A restaurant may have a cocktail lounge attached, though.

A cocktail lounge would be a room or limited portion of a restaurant where patrons may sit and wait for their tables and which serves alcoholic beverages and is only an accessory to the principal use of the restaurant. Stand-up consumption of alcoholic beverages would not be allowed.

A bar would be any indoor area open to the public, primarily for the sale of alcoholic beverages, where food service is secondary. Bars include taverns, taprooms, lounges, cabarets, nightclubs, and so forth. Bars are not permitted in Selbyville town limits.

Nightclubs are similar to bars, providing primary service in alcohol and entertainment or a dancing area. Nightclubs are also not permitted in Selbyville.

The businesses would also need to apply for a town business license.

Existing businesses may not be heavily affected because they could register for legal “nonconforming status.” The grandfathered businesses will have to keep a scale floor-plan of the restaurant on file at Selbyville Town Hall, showing the designated zones for seated dining and stand-up consumption of alcohol. The floor-plan may be modified in the future, so long as the percentage and total area of patron stand-up alcohol consumption is not increased.

Penalties for non-compliance with these proposed rules could result in loss of business license and a $1,000 fine.

The entire proposed amendment for the Zoning Code Chapter 200 can be obtained from Town Hall at 68 West Church Street or by calling (302) 436-8314.