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CARBONDALE — An ordinance to allow some parties the ability to deliver packaged alcohol in Carbondale was OK'd by the city’s Liquor Advisory Board and will be passed on to the council for consideration.

Spurred by the entry of ride-sharing and food delivery company, carGo of Cape Girardeau, the LAB again took up discussion Thursday of whether to advise in favor of passing such an ordinance.

The board reviewed comparable ordinances from other municipalities when considering the city’s proposed language before Thursday’s meeting and members came ready with questions for carGo Vice President of Market Development Shad Burner.

Burner explained that carGo, which started alcohol sales in its home market in Cape Girardeau this summer, has a model that allows for checks on purchasers — people placing orders have to enter a birthday before seeing alcohol menus and the driver has to check the ID against the name on the order. No match means no delivery, and a re-shelving charge as well as a return fee.

A chief concern for members of the board was who was responsible for an underage sale. It was proposed that when a store, through a delivery service, makes a sale to a minor, the transaction could be considered illegal and fall on the business even though they had little to do with the sale.

Burner had an answer for that, saying no transaction is complete until the driver makes the hand-off. No funds are transferred to the business until the driver OK’s the sale. He said all of their drivers have received alcohol sellers and servers education and training. Burner also said drivers who deliver alcohol have to be 21 years old.

Burner said he believed it is “important that culpability be transferred to the driver” when it comes to underage alcohol sales.

City Attorney Jamie Snyder said the way the language is currently written, there is a minimum fine of $1,000 plus court costs to any delivery service who sells to an underage person. He said he believed this steep fine would help the market self-regulate.

Another question was whether to impose volume limits on how much could be delivered at a given time. However, this was quashed.

“The key is to run parallel to what the store can do,” Burner told the board. He said if they don't have limits, neither should delivery services.

Before Thursday’s meeting, Carbondale City Manager Gary Williams said the city’s interest in alcohol delivery is just to keep current with transportation and service trends. He said with the arrival of carGo and similar ridesharing and delivery services, the city wants to make sure it’s supportive of these businesses.

Snyder also saw the city getting out ahead on the issue was being business-friendly.

“I think we need to be looking forward (from a business perspective),” Snyder said. He added that cooperative business partnerships like what carGo and other services have with local businesses is the future.

Williams said it’s still a relatively new venture for many municipalities, but so far research hasn’t found any major problems.

“The conversations we’ve had at the staff level, we haven't discovered anything that causes us a lot of concern,” Williams said.

Williams said there actually is the possibility of alcohol delivery would help deter impaired driving.

“Our hope would be, perhaps in some cases, rather than somebody driving that shouldn’t be driving to get alcohol later in the evening (they would use a delivery service),” Williams said.

Burner also expressed this sentiment Thursday.

Steve Payne sits on the LAB and is owner of Quatro’s Deep Pan Pizza — he said in an interview before Thursday’s meeting that it is still too soon to form an official opinion as a member of the board.

As a business owner, he said it’s also hard to form a solid opinion — he is already in the delivery business and said he would have to see how the economics shook out before deciding to offer a cold six pack to be delivered next to his pizzas.

Still, he can see the appeal.

“If the economics make it worthwhile, my suspicion is you’ll a number of folks in the delivery business consider it,” he said.

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isaac.smith@thesouthern.com

618-351-5823

On Twitter: @ismithreports

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Isaac Smith is a reporter covering Jackson County.

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