Pickerington City Council last week gave initial approvals to formally permit alcohol consumption in Victory Park during the 2012 Violet Festival.

Pickerington City Council last week gave initial approvals to formally permit alcohol consumption in Victory Park during the 2012 Violet Festival.

Council May 15 voted 5-1 to provide an open-container permit to the Violet Festival.

The measure still requires an additional approval by council, which could come as soon its June 5 regular meeting.

The 15th annual installment of the Violet Festival, which is a keystone event for the local community drawing upwards of 40,000 attendees over the course of it's multi-day run, is slated for July 25-28 in Pickerington's Victory Park.

Although alcohol has been sold at the festival throughout its history, city officials this year have moved to formalize the legalization of alcohol consumption in the park.

According to Phil Hartmann, an attorney for the city, the move is needed to eliminate any legal conflicts with alcohol consumption in a public park, which otherwise is outlawed by the city.

"You're allowing something that is against the laws of the city," Hartmann said.

"We probably should have (required the permit) in the past.

"We need to have some official action waiving that restriction."

In addition to formally permitting alcohol consumption in Victory Park during the festival, Hartmann said providing an open container permit also would address potential insurance liability issues that could arise.

Without the permit, Hartmann said, the city could be at risk to lawsuits should an alcohol-related incident occur in the park during the festival.

If the permit is granted, he said, it would reduce the city's liabilities.

"The insurance company could argue you're allowing something that's illegal," if no permit is in place, Hartmann said.

Earlier this month, Violet Festival officials said they plan to offer alcohol for sale throughout the four days of the event.

As proposed, Violet Festival attendees would be permitted to purchase and consume alcohol in the beer garden and a VIP tent from 5 to midnight July 25 and 26, from 5 p.m. to 1 a.m. July 27 and from noon to 1 a.m. July 28.

The festival also would be authorized to sell wine, in addition to beer, in its VIP tent July 27 and 28, and capacity at its VIP tent would be allowed to expand from approximately 50 to 100 people.

Councilman Mike Sabatino was the loan member to oppose the issuance of the open container permit. His objections have stemmed from reservation raised by Pickerington Police Chief Mike Taylor, who has questioned if alcohol sales and consumption should be permitted throughout the duration of the festival, or if sales and consumption hours should be reduced.

Earlier this month, a police department official said Taylor hadn't taken a formal position on whether or not he will sign off on the open container permit if it is granted by City Council.

He has, however, recommended the hours for alcohol sales be reduced.

The police chief's approval is required for the permit to be issued.