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Denver considers creating common 'alcohol consumption' areas

Denver is proposing a 5-year pilot program to join cities like Fort Collins and Greeley in liquor common consumption.

DENVER — Denver is looking to change how and where people over the age of 21 can legally consume alcohol from different businesses. 

For a year and a half, Denver's Department of Excise and Licenses has been exploring the idea of allowing common areas where people can legally drink alcohol purchased from businesses with an existing liquor license.

In 2011, the Colorado General Assembly passed a law allowing local jurisdictions to license such designated areas. Fort Collins and Greeley already offer the option with few complaints, according to the city of Denver. 

Denver's Department of Excise and Licenses presented the idea to the Denver City Council, Business, Arts, Workforce, & Aviation Services Committee last week. It plans to return in June for a full presentation of the pilot program. If implemented, the license wouldn't take effect until the end of 2019 or early 2020.

Denver believes the new license could be an amenity for communities and businesses in the city. It would take some effort to acquire. 

The city said interested areas would have to show evidence of community support before applying. Eric Escudero, director of communications for Denver Excise and Business, said that the proposal doesn't necessarily mean liquor common consumption is "coming to your neighborhood. If you want liquor common consumption, you're going to have the opportunity to support it. If you don't want liquor common consumption, you're going to be able to say 'I don't want that in my neighborhood.' "

A public hearing would also be required. 

The license would not impact existing laws like noise ordinances. The designated areas would have to close by 2 a.m. and must uphold security and sanitation requirements. They would also have to be either indoors or closed to vehicle traffic.

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