Winter Garden considers alcohol allowances moratorium

The Winter Garden City Commission heard the first reading of an ordinance that would temporarily limit new businesses from selling alcohol in the downtown area at its Thursday, May 12, meeting.

  • West Orange Times & Observer
  • News
  • Share

The Winter Garden City Commission heard the first reading of an ordinance that would temporarily limit new businesses from selling alcohol in the downtown area at its Thursday, May 12, meeting.

The ordinance would implement a “temporary moratorium until May 26, 2023, on the acceptance, processing and consideration of applications for development orders, building permits and zoning clearance approvals involving uses or business selling alcoholic beverages within the city of Winter Garden historic downtown district.” 

The proposed ordinance also would allow for a possible extension or early termination of the moratorium. 

Existing businesses would not be affected. 

In a submission to the City Commission delivered by City Manager Jon C. Williams, Community Development Director Steve Pash said the city “has a concern about the impact of having excessive number of businesses selling alcoholic beverages for on-premises consumption within the Downtown District and desires for the city staff to evaluate and potentially propose changes to Chapter 6, City of Winter Garden Code of Ordinance regulating alcoholic beverage sales and to the city’s land development regulations to address such concern.”

Chapter 6 of the Winter Garden city charter states, in part, that an establishment isn’t allowed to have on-premises consumption of alcohol “if the place of business is nearer than 1,000 feet to the place of business of any vendor wherein on-premises consumption of alcoholic beverages is permitted.”

Restaurants are exempt from this distance limitation. 


In the last few years, a number of new businesses have come to town wanting to open and serve alcohol, Pash said. He explained the charter states 51% of sales need to come from food and non-alcoholic beverages on site.

“Some businesses have come in as a retail shop and then started selling small food items, snacks,” Pash said. “Then, they come back and try to be classified as a restaurant and argue with staff to get that alcohol license.” 

Staff said the length of the moratorium would allow for staff to have adequate time to review the code sections and the city charter to make sure everything is consistent. 

Pash said the planning board recommended denial of the ordinance. The board had concerns the moratorium would create advantages for the existing businesses and  could discourage new businesses from coming to the area. 

Pash said staff denied one application submitted prior to any of the ordinances being read. Staff asked that the applicant, Main House Market Kombucha Bar, be allowed to continue as long as it meets all code requirements. The business that was previously in the location had served alcohol.

Pash explained staff currently is not working with any new businesses besides the one stated. 

District 1 Commissioner Lisa Bennett said she has had a lot of phone calls relating to the issue.

“Ninety-five percent of them have been in support of the moratorium, to have it just as a pause,” Bennett said.

“Most people want to make sure Winter Garden remains a family-friendly downtown, and they want to make sure we don’t become a downtown Orlando, because we’re a small community and we want that community feel,” Winter Garden Commissioner Colin Sherman, of District 4, said.

The motion was carried unanimously, with the second reading and public hearing set for Thursday, May 26. 


City commissioners heard the first reading of an ordinance relating to the development of childcare at The First Baptist Church Winter Garden. The proposed ordinance is to rezone 1.38 acres at 72 N. Woodland St., and 81 and 91 N. Main St., on the southeast corner of North Main Street and East Newell Street, from a residential district to a planned commercial development. 

The 12,738-square-foot child care facility would include associated improvements like parking and landscaping. The facility would accommodate a maximum of 154 children, some of whom already attend programs at the church. 

At a community meeting held about the facility, several attendees had concerns relating to traffic, solid waste and child safety, Pash said. By the end, staff was able to answer all questions, and there were no objections.

Pash said the church does meet the requirements and is off-set with the nearby Foundation Academy dismissal. 

The motion passed unanimously.


  • Mayor John Rees read a proclamation designating May as Public Service Recognition Month. 
  • City commissioners approved unanimously an amendment to the Winter Garden code of ordinances relating to municipal elections. The proposed amendment sets the current city qualifying time period back by two weeks, as it currently conflicts with the Florida statute.
  • Commissioners approved an amendment to the Winter Garden code of ordinances concerning connection to water and wastewater systems and requirements for utility services to properties located outside of the city limits.
  • Commissioners approved unanimously an ordinance consenting to the expansion of the Orange County Lake Roberts municipal service benefit unit to include certain properties surrounding Lake Reaves located within the city of Winter Garden. 
  • The commission approved unanimously the purchase of a police K-9, not exceeding $10,000, utilizing the Law Enforcement Trust Fund. 
  • The commission approved unanimously a site plan for 308 E. Bay St. The applicant requested to build a new 2,048-square-foot office building, along with a 1,350-square-foot warehouse and various site improvements such as parking and landscaping. 
  • Commissioners approved unanimously an assignment of drainage easements from Orange County to the city of Winter Garden, south of Klondike Street to Plant Street. 
  • City Commissioners unanimously approved a West Orange Trail Utility Easement as part of the Oakland Park development. 
  • Commissioners approved unanimously waiving the formal procurement process and award purchase order in the amount of $276,559.63 to Dale Beasley Construction for State Road 50 manhole repair. 
  • Commissioners approved unanimously the Winter Garden Masonic Lodge annual All American Kids Parade for Monday, July 4. 
  • City commissioners approved unanimously the Party in the Park event for Monday, July 4. 



Annabelle Sikes

News Editor Annabelle Sikes was born in Boca Raton and moved to Orlando in 2018 to attend the University of Central Florida. She graduated from UCF in May 2021 with a bachelor’s degree in journalism and a minor in sociology. Her past journalism experiences include serving as a web producer at the Orlando Sentinel, a reporter at The Community Paper, managing editor for NSM Today, digital manager at Centric Magazine and as an intern for the Orlando Weekly.

Related Articles