Council’s license decision was the right call

THE CITY COUNCIL’S LAST call on retail liquor licenses was the right call. After going back and forth on the issue for several months, the council Tuesday voted to open up all available class B retail liquor licenses immediately to any interested applicant.

By state law, the city is limited in the number of class B tavern licenses it can issue – one for every 500 population. For Plymouth, that means a limit of 16 licenses, 14 of which are already issued.

The council a year ago decided to hold two in reserve, specifically set aside for “full service restaurants or large sports and entertainment complexes.”

That seemed fine until late last year, when three prospective new businesses – none of them “full service restaurants or large sports and entertainment complexes” - expressed an interest in obtaining a class B license.

The council debated making one, two or none of the open licenses available and had the option for one or two on the table at their last meeting.

In the end, they decided that a chance to help a business now is better than waiting for something better – or at least bigger - to come along, which is a wise approach to take.

There may be a “full service restaurant or large sports and entertainment complex” somewhere in the city’s future, but waiting for it might mean denying someone right now who wants to use a license a chance.

The city is only 100 new residents or so away from qualifying for another class B licenses, so it may well be that a license will still be available if and when a “full service restaurant or large sports and entertainment complex” finally comes along.

The council also made a right call on the question of how to rebate the $10,000 fee for any new licenses.

That’s a provision the state established a number of years ago, requiring cities to charge $10,000 to issue new class B licenses as opposed to the $500 fee that had been in place beforehand.

The city in the past has simply rebated that additional fee money to a license holder once they had their business running, but now that fee will go to the Redevelopment Authority, which will determine whether to rebate the fee to the license holder for redevelopment or job creation purposes.

The council had two options to consider, setting the rules the RDA would use or leaving it to the RDA to set guidelines, and the council wisely chose the latter.

The council does not tell the Library Board what books to buy, or the Park Board what playground equipment to install, and it should not be in the business of telling the RDA how to handle redevelopment.

At issue:
Liquor licenses
Bottom line:
Make them all available now

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