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Niceville alcohol ordinance could be changing

In Niceville, businesses aren't allowed to sell alcohol if it's within a certain distance of schools or churches.

Some city officials are looking to change that.
 

If someone wanted to develop property on John Sims Parkway in Niceville, they could put almost any business they want, unless it sells alcohol.

That's because that area sits within 500 feet of both The Church of Christ and Niceville High School, and selling alcohol that close to churches or schools is against city ordinances.

That could be changing in the near future.
Tom Miesen sells commercial real estate in Niceville.

Miesen says, "I had a property that was for sale within 500 feet of Niceville High School, and it just didn't, anyway we could configure it, it just did not work for a restaurant with a bar".

Developers have asked the city to consider changing the ordinance to try and attract new businesses.
   
Meisen adds, "you're watching people go across the bridge to Destin to the nice restaurants. They're huge businesses over there in Destin. Why can't we keep them here?".

Miesen says the laws were designed to protect Niceville's family environment and have done just that.
   
He says they also make it difficult for larger chains to establish themselves, which drives business to Destin or Ft. Walton Beach.
   
Chef Ernie Danjean owns The Dockside Cafe, and agrees.

"I don't really see a problem with trying to attract a larger business to come into our area to give people a reason to stay on the North Bay, and keep our business in Niceville", says Danjean.

The new ordinances would most likely not cover establishments that don't sell food.
   
Danjean thinks that fact would keep Niceville residents open to the idea.

"I don't think Niceville as a family community would be so interested in night clubs or bar rooms because that's really not our thing here", says Danjean.

The City Council will discuss the proposal at their August meeting before voting on it in September.