Drinking in public

Fayetteville may allow alcohol consumption on its streets.

Fayetteville may soon take advantage of a new state law that allows limited public consumption of alcohol.

City Council members next week will consider a proposal to establish rules and boundaries where residents could drink alcohol in public during special events.

Act 812, sponsored by Sen. Trent Garner (R-El Dorado), allows municipalities to create designated entertainment districts inside commercial areas that contain places like restaurants, bars, music venues, art galleries, and other entertainment or hospitality establishments. Those districts would be exempt from state laws that prohibit public alcohol consumption.

The new law is aimed at promoting hospitality and tourism in Arkansas cities, and would allow people to move around through an entertainment district while drinking without being confined to a fenced-in beer garden.

Mountain Home was the first city in the state to create an official entertainment district that allows open containers. Within that district, people can drink in public between the hours of 4:30 p.m. and midnight every day of the week.

Fayetteville’s proposal is far more restrictive.

“It is important to note that this is not a free-for-all,” said Blake Pennington, the city’s assistant attorney.

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