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The Villages
Thursday, February 22, 2024

Bars may have to stop serving liquor two hours earlier at Spanish Springs

A proposed ordinance amendment would make “last call” about two hours earlier at bars in the Spanish Springs area in The Villages.

Lady Lake Police Chief Robert Tempesta is asking the town’s commission to consider an ordinance amendment that would cut off liquor sales at midnight, rather than 2 a.m. as the law currently allows.

The change is prompted by a long list of late night calls to police in recent months. Notably, a man was shot and killed in the wee hours March 7 at Applebee’s, located on Bichara Boulevard in the Spanish Springs area.

A shooting victim’s body was removed from Applebee’s on March 7.

The list of late-night police calls includes customers throwing food at Gator’s Dockside, a tip that drugs were being sold at Applebee’s and a server who had a drink thrown in her face by a customer at Margarita Republic. There have also been instances of intoxicated people found laying in the roadway and a woman who spent two weeks in jail after she was found passed out at the square. In addition, there have been drunk driving arrests, vandalism, golf cart burglaries and fights.

“There is a trend of increased patronage between midnight until the close of some establishments, many times after 2 a.m. Officers on patrol have reported that crowds will continue to come to these establishments right up until 2 a.m. Increased incidents and reported crime between midnight and 2 a.m are problematic and have become a public safety issue,” Chief Tempesta said.

Under the proposed ordinance amendment, other establishments such as stores within gas stations in Lady Lake would still be able to sell alcoholic beverages until 2 a.m. Currently, Sumter County and the City of Wildwood have hours for alcohol sales from 7 a.m. until midnight except for New Year’s Eve where they allow sales until 2 a.m. in Sumter County and in Wildwood until 1 a.m.

If the commission agrees with the police chief’s request, Ordinance 2012-05 will be modified and brought back before the commission for adoption after two public hearings.

Do you think the bars should stopping serving booze at midnight? Share your thoughts at letters@villages-news.com

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