Tybee leaders consider ban on public drinking in April - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

Tybee leaders consider ban on public drinking in April

(Source: WTOC) (Source: WTOC)
TYBEE ISLAND, GA (WTOC) -

Spring break season is here and city leaders on Tybee Island want to make their beaches safer this year.

The city council is considering a proposal that would ban alcohol consumption in public areas during the month of April.

The idea behind the proposed amendment is to curb underage drinking, especially during Orange Crush. The mayor says the bottom line is keeping people safe, those who live on the island and those who visit.

"And you know, you've had instances where spring break crowds have led to fatalities - people falling off patios and things of that nature - and we don't want something like that to happen here, so we are looking at doing the same thing that other communities have done,” said Mayor Jason Buelterman.

Spring break destinations like Panama City Beach, Florida, and Gulf Shores, Alabama, have adopted similar measures with success, but the mayor says that has, in turn, funneled more spring breakers to Tybee.

"I don't want large spring break crowds on Tybee. It creates problems, and we're seeing more of those crowds come out this year, because of what other beaches have done, so we've decided to look at this as a possibility to try to prevent people from getting hurt,” said Mayor Buelterman.

The proposal came from a task force the city formed after a shooting during Orange Crush last year. If the council approves the amendment, it would prohibit drinking in any public places, including the beach. No word yet if the pier would be included, since it's owned by the county.

"I think this is the best idea they've come up with, and I'm all for it,” said Mark Sapp, Tybee resident.

Sapp has lived on Tybee Island for six years and helps clean up the beaches after each Orange Crush.

"It's going to cut back on a lot of littering. It's the big thing on the island, because the beaches...they just tear them up,” said Sapp.

There is a chance the ban could hurt businesses on the beach. WTOC visited more than a dozen Thursday afternoon, but all of them were either unable or unwilling to speak on camera.

But Mayor Buelterman said he doesn't anticipate a big impact, especially given the proposal's limited scope.

"I don't think it would take away from what businesses generally already have had out here in the past decade. We haven't had this phenomenon, really, until this year,” said Mayor Buelterman.

The city's public safety committee will meet Friday morning to discuss the proposal and make a recommendation to city council. The council will then have to meet next week to decide whether to adopt a change.

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