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Cheyenne City Council allows for year-round open container downtown in the new year

A vendor from Roadhouse Brewing of Jackson pours ice over cans of beer to keep them cool during the Wyoming Brewers Festival on Friday evening at Cheyenne Depot Plaza in downtown Cheyenne. (Briar Napier/Cap City News)

CHEYENNE, Wyo. — After discussion regarding an open container ordinance, downtown visitors will be able to drink in the area seven days a week beginning with the new year.

The ordinance passed on final reading during the regular council meeting on Monday, Nov. 29. The ordinance allows members of the community to drink malt liquor in the downtown area throughout the year. The original documents stated the ordinance would be active between 8 a.m. and 10 p.m., but after discussion and comments from businesses in the area, the council proposed a substitution for it to run from noon to 10 p.m.

Lt. Joel Hickerson represented the Cheyenne Police Department to speak about concerns regarding public intoxication resulting from this ordinance.

“I know it’s been brought that there were concerns about increases of impaired persons or public intoxication associated with this. And reflecting on this I checked our numbers thus far for 2021 and 2022. We have seen a negligible, if any, impact on this,” he said.

To date, there have been 442 impaired persons in 2022, compared with 416 in 2020 and 471 in 2021, he reported.

“At least on the law enforcement side in regards to that, it does not appear that that is creating an exceeding amount or an increased amount of workload on our part or those impaired persons or public intoxication arrests,” he said.

When asked by Councilmember Pete Laybourn whether there was a greater percentage of arrests downtown, Hickerson said, “Our CITRATO mapping data indicate that on a percentage basis, the downtown public intoxication arrests are also rather consistent, with the highest numbers we’ve seen historically for the neighboring district to the downtown development area would be Martin Luther King Park.”

Though this ordinance was passed, there were several councilmembers who were against it.

When discussing the substitution, Laybourn said it makes sense that there be a substitution as “the pancake breakfast, the parade, and other downtown events are intentionally, historically, family-friendly. I have a personal opinion that no one needs to drink alcohol under any circumstance at the pancake breakfast or the parade.”

Councilmember Dr. Michelle Aldrich showed concern surrounding the ordinance as a whole, saying, “I just am a firm believer that we don’t necessarily have to have alcohol in order to have a good time and it benefits only a handful of our businesses downtown who hold a certain license based on state statute and so, consequently, it prohibits the other entities downtown from being able to participate. So that’s my reason for voting no tonight on this.”

“Another issue that would need to be addressed would be increased police pedestrian presence in the downtown area. I’ve seen nothing or heard nothing that would support additional police presence in the downtown district from noon until 10 p.m. seven days a week,” Councilmember Tom Seagrave said. “I’ve not heard anything to suggest that we should have a safe ride program to accompany this.”

“The other thing I found interesting about the downtown merchants’ report is there’s not one bank, there’s not one church, there’s nobody from the schools, and there’s not one daycare response. How do those folks who have a large presence in their downtown feel about this?” he said.

When it came to adopting the ordinance, councilmembers Seagrave, Laybourn, and Aldrich voted against.

The full ordinance and substitution can be found below: