SNOWMASS VILLAGE - Revelers will be able carry their drinks around Base Village Plaza at three concerts this season if an application for a common consumption area is approved at the next Liquor Licensing Authority meeting.
Four Base Village restaurants - Sneaky's Tavern, Base Camp Bar and Grill, Slice, and Burger Bar and Fish - have applied to create such an area during two Bud Light Hi-Fi free concerts and the end-of-season party planned in the plaza. The application is the first since the Town Council passed an ordinance last fall designating an entertainment district where licensed premises could apply to create common consumption areas.
The ordinance was proposed after the state Legislature passed a law allowing municipalities to create entertainment districts and develop application processes for them. Under the law, licensed establishments must form promotional associations through which they can apply to designate an area for common consumption. The applications must outline hours of operation and a management plan, and the association is responsible for security.
Town Clerk Rhonda Coxon said the liquor board developed its own application based on existing ones in other Colorado municipalities.
The four restaurants, acting as the Snowmass Base Village Merchants Promotional Association, met all the requirements, Coxon said, so now it's up to the liquor board to approve it. During the meeting, which is at 4 p.m. Feb. 11, there will be a public hearing. The board can amend some parts of the application, such as how much security the association will hire, Coxon said.
Some members of the public raised concerns about safety when the council was reviewing the entertainment district ordinance. Glen Wood, manager of Sneaky's Tavern, says the Snowmass Base Village Merchants Promotional Association has been working with the Snowmass police and town clerk and attorneys.
Snowmass Police Chief Art Smythe said the work on this application is very similar to what the department does regularly with special-event permits. Smythe said the department is most interested in the association's plan for managing the exit points and "about alcohol not coming onto the licensed area and alcohol not leaving the licensed area."
The department also is working to make sure the applicants understand the regulations under the state law that allows entertainment districts. For instance, beverages have to be served in specific cups, and each establishment has to serve drinks in their own cups.
Closing parties and concerts have been held in Base Village for a few years.
"None of them have had any issues with them related to alcohol," said Scott Calliham, owner of Base Camp Bar and Grill and Slice pizzeria.
Calliham advocated for the creation of an entertainment district specifically so that it would be easier to stage events like these. He said opening up the plaza to alcohol might not add up to increased sales for his restaurants, but it will make it more enjoyable for people. It also will be easier to control, he added, because people are more likely to sneak alcohol off the premises "just to enjoy a beer while they listen to music" than to sneak it off the plaza.
Smythe said a common consumption area doesn't present more or less concern over safety and alcohol violations.
"As long as the plan is in place, and they follow the regulations in the law, I don't think it's more of an issue," Smythe said.
If more events start happening because of the new ordinance, there would be "more potential for problems," he said.
"It's important that people understand it's not just an open free-for-all ... because of the confined area that they have to manage," Smythe said.
Rob Carney, owner of Snowmass Bakery, which now has a location directly beneath Slice, said allowing common consumption during the concerts wouldn't bother him.
"Anything that promotes more people down here, that's great," he said. "I'm OK with it, especially if it's that time of day. Hopefully they're not too stumbling drunk yet."
Calliham said most Base Village residents he's spoken with are on board with the application. They just don't want the party to go all night while they're trying to get some sleep.
"It adds to the reason that people would come rent your place," Calliham said. "People just don't want it to turn into a free-for-all."
The first of the Hi-Fi concerts on the application, Easy Star All Stars: "Dub Side of the Moon," is Feb. 16 in Base Village.