City Commissioners remove 600 ft distance requirement for alcohol near churches

GREAT FALLS- Distance requirements for alcohol sales near churches have been lifted.

Yesterday city commissioners approved an ordinance that removed the 600 ft restriction, which means establishments with a liquor license can now operate right next to a church.

In the State Law, schools are also protected with the distance requirements, but this ordinance was only passed for churches.

In the past, many businesses have been denied purchasing a property because of this restriction, but now that it has been lifted, City Commissioner Rick Tryon says this will help the future of their downtown development.

“Having the option to build downtown or to go downtown is a good thing. We want lots of folks downtown. We want people to live downtown. There are a lot of apartments and other things in the works for living space down there. We want people to live and work downtown, and so I think the option of having a church down there is a good thing”, says Tryon.

This ordinance applies anywhere in the city, but if a church wanted to move in the downtown area they would have to get a ‘conditional use permit’.

Even though this change may bring benefits to the downtown area of Great Falls, Tryon says they have no plans of dropping distance restrictions with anything else.

“The church and bar thing is fine, and I think that’s a good thing. Beyond that, I would probably not be in favor of removing a distance requirement between a casino and a school.”

Only bars and restaurants with liquor licenses will be able to operate near these churches, while casinos will still be under the distance restriction.

So far, the city has already approved one downtown church permit for the Calvary Chapel of Cascade County.

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