Council votes to open up liquor licenses

by Emmitt B. Feldner of The Review staff

PLYMOUTH – When it comes to liquor licenses, the city is holding nothing back.

The City Council voted Tuesday to eliminate any reserved retail liquor licenses and make them all available now.

The council also voted to authorize the Redevelopment Authority to refund any or all of the state-mandated $10,000 fee for those and future new liquor licenses, and to establish guidelines for how that money would be rebated.

Last year, the council opted to hold on to the two remaining class B liquor licenses for possible future use by “full service restaurants or large sports and entertainment complexes.”

But when three different new businesses expressed interest in obtaining liquor licenses late last year, the council decided to revisit the issue.

The council had a choice of two different ordinances, one of which would have reserved one license, the other reserving none.

The motion to go with the second option passed by a vote of 5-1, with Alderperson Jackie Jarvis voting no and Alderperson Jim Faller absent.

Jarvis had suggested tabling both alternatives and keeping the current code reserving two licenses, but could not get a second for that motion.

There were also two options for the section granting the RDA authority to rebate the liquor license fee, one of which set parameters for the rebate based on economic redevelopment and job creation, the other allowing the RDA to set guidelines along the same principles.

City Clerk/Treasurer Patty Huberty explained that the current ordinance allows her office to rebate all but $500 of that fee to the license holder once they are in business. The $500 is the cost of a class B license created before the state mandated the $10,000 fee and is the amount still charged for those licenses if and when they change hands.

The council had earlier indicated their interest in tieing that rebate to redevelopment, to be administered by the RDA.

Council President Charles Hansen proposed sending the issue to the RDA to have them develop their guidelines before the council took final action.

“They might clarify some things on what’s in their parameters and they can come back with recommendations on our behalf,” Hansen explained.

“I don’t see a need to go to the RDA and have them say this is what we will do,” Alderperson Jim Sedlacek countered.

Speaking of the second alternative ordinance, Sedlacek pointed out, “The way the ordinance is written, it allows the licensee be given first opportunity to use that money or at least come up with a plan to be reviewed by the RDA.”

“I think that the policy should be dictated by the RDA and not set in cement like an ordinance,” Jarvis added. “I think the RDA should be given the flexibility to change their plan as they see necessary without coming back to us to change the ordinance.”

While no one has yet applied for a new license, Huberty noted, someone could and then receive the rebate without RDA approval if adoption of the new ordinance was delayed.

The council originally voted 5-2 for Hansen’s motion to send the issue to the RDA, with Jarvis and Sedlacek voting no.

But when Sedlacek moved to adopt the proposal giving RDA leeway to set rebate rules, that motion passed unanimously.

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