Alcohol Law Information
The commercial property Highland Mains, northeast of CVS and north of Quick Quack Car Wash, is approved for retail and office development. The property owner, MNG Highland Development (MNG), is asking for a change to the City’s laws to allow restaurants in their development to sell alcoholic beverages. MNG submitted a formal request and paid an application fee to the City to have the City Council hear and act on their request.
City Council is seeking resident feedback on this proposal. A resident feedback survey will be sent through the mail to your home sometime around the last week of September. Surveys are due on or before October 18. Included in the mailer are instructions for how to take the survey online. We ask anyone who can take the survey online to do so to expedite results. Before filling out the survey, please review the information below. The Council values your perspective and will take survey results into consideration before making their decision.
The City anticipates City Council considering this item in January after the 2023 Municipal Election.
Below is an outline from the City on this requested change and current laws on the sale of alcoholic beverages. You can also see a video of an Information Meeting held this topic below and review the Presentation Slides.
MNG Highland Development’s Requested Change
The requested change is to allow restaurants to obtain a "Full-Service Restaurant License" which, under state law, allows for beer, wine, mixed drinks, and spirits to be sold to customers. If approved, restaurants would be required to follow all state alcohol regulations (Utah Code 32B) including that all alcohol (1) be consumed on-site and (2) served only with a food order.
MNG’s 2021 original plans for this shopping center included local chain fast food and quick-serve restaurants, and included several with drive-thru facilities. See original plans to the below.
When MNG commenced construction in the summer of 2022, they decided they wanted to do something different with the development, halted construction, and redesigned their site. See their new approved site plan and a rendering below. Their revised plans can accommodate 4 large sit-down restaurants. MNG has stated that over a period of 12 months of marketing and leasing, every sit-down restaurant that has expressed interest in being a part of this project has requested and required the ability to curate their food and beverage menu in the same manner that they would in any other location where they operate. Without these restaurants, MNG states that the development of Highland Mains in its current form is not viable and they will need to revert back to the initial plan proposed.
Because the restaurant operators MNG has spoken with want to provide a full-service restaurant experience, which includes the sale of all alcoholic beverages, MNG is requesting this change.
The property owner’s proposed request only applies to their particular commercial area. However, the City Council has discussed the possibility of making their decision on this matter applicable to other commercial areas in the City. At a minimum, City Council will likely update City code to resolve some inconsistencies on this topic (see below).
Current City Law
Highland City Municipal Code 5.12.020 and Ordinance 1977-09 prohibit the sale of beer City-wide. When these codes were approved in 1977 and in 2000, the sale of alcohol was more regulated by state law, and thus, by banning beer, the City effectively prohibited the retail sale of all alcohol. State law has since become less prohibitive on the sale of alcoholic beverages, and City code has not been updated to reflect those changes.
In addition, in all but one commercial zone in the City, alcohol sales of any kind are expressly prohibited. In the one commercial zone that does not expressly prohibit alcohol sales (the area surrounding Macey’s), the City Council has historically put limitations on individual businesses to not allow alcohol sales.
Due in part to the factors outlined above, there are no public businesses currently in Highland that sell alcohol. While the Alpine Country Club does serve alcohol, they are a private club and existed before the City was incorporated, and thus their alcohol sales are grandfathered in.
Implications to the Potential Change & Other City Council Considerations
DENYING the change and clarifying the prohibition of alcohol sales throughout the City would mean:
- City law would be updated to ban alcohol sales in all commercial zones in the City.
- No restaurants, grocery, or convenience stores could sell any type of alcohol.
- Liquor stores and bars would remain prohibited.
APPROVING the change and allowing alcohol sales under specific criteria in this particular commercial area would mean:
- The sale of alcoholic beverages in restaurants would be allowed in this commercial area. Restaurants could sell beer, wine, and other types of alcoholic beverages.
- Grocery and convenience stores would continue to be prohibited from selling alcoholic beverages city-wide.
- Liquor stores and bars would remain prohibited city-wide.
- The Sunday business closure law would remain unchanged city-wide.
Additional changes the City Council could consider if they chose to allow alcoholic beverage sales include:
- Broadening the allowance to all commercial areas throughout the City.
- Limiting the total number of restaurants selling alcoholic beverages.
- Setting a minimum distance between businesses that sell alcoholic beverages.
- Setting a maximum number of licenses available per commercial area.
- Rather than allowing all types of alcoholic beverages to be sold in restaurants (full-service), limiting alcohol sales in restaurants to beer and wine only (limited-service).