Anniston Sunday alcohol sales bill now law, council could vote by June
by Tim Lockette
MONTGOMERY — The Anniston Ecotourism Beverage Bill is now law.

The much-debated bill, which gives the Anniston City Council the power to approve alcohol sales on Sundays, was signed by Gov. Robert Bentley Tuesday.

Anniston's mayor says the City Council will probably vote on a Sunday sales proposal in June.

"It won't make or break us but it's a positive step forward," said Mayor Vaughn Stewart.

Stewart and other council members sought the power to approve Sunday sales in the city as part of a larger plan to turn the city's fortunes around. Stewart wants to declare Anniston "Bike City Alabama," capitalizing the prominent bicycle races held in the city and on Coldwater Mountain's biking trails.

Sunday alcohol sales, the theory goes, would help the city attract crowds to weekend races.

"We're going to become a city where people want to visit, where they want to live and work and where they want to raise their kids," Stewart said.

At least one local business owner said the signing of the bill was a welcome development.

"It's awesome news," said Rodney Snider, a co-founder and CEO of Cheaha Brewing Co., a brewpub set to open in downtown Anniston.

The brewpub plans to have 10 types of craft beer, all brewed in-house, on tap when it opens in about three weeks.

Snider said approval of Sunday sales by the council would give the brewpub an extra day to sell its only product. Still, Snider said, the company chose to come to Anniston despite the fact Sunday sales aren't yet an option.

"We felt like the atmosphere was positive, with a new council and plans for downtown," he said. "This (bill) is just icing on the cake."

Meanwhile, leaders in Weaver, Anniston's smaller neighbor are waiting to see whether they'll get any cake at all. Weaver leaders have sought a bill similar to Anniston's, in hopes that it will convince some businesses along Alabama 21 to seek annexation into the city.

The Senate adjourned around 9:45 p.m Tuesday, after nearly 12 hours of deliberation, without passing the Weaver bill or any other local legislation. 

Senate President Pro Tem Del Marsh, R-Anniston, said there was still a chance the Weaver bill could be passed by the Senate.

"It's not dead yet," he said. "I think we still can transmit these local bills on Thursday," he said.

Weaver Mayor Wayne Willis didn’t know what to say about the delay.

“I hate to give a negative comment if it passes and I hate to give a positive comment if it doesn’t,” he said.

After passage in the Senate, the Weaver bill would still require passage in the House, where at least one local legislator, Rep. Randy Wood, R-Saks, has said he’ll oppose it.

Capitol & statewide reporter Tim Lockette: 256-294-4193. On Twitter @TLockette_Star.

© 2013