RDA sets flexible rebate rules

by Emmitt B. Feldner of The Review staff

PLYMOUTH – The Redevelopment Authority left themselves plenty of flexibility in awarding rebates of reserve liquor license fees.

The RDA approved a set of guidelines for returning all or part of the $10,000 state-mandated fee for the new bar or tavern licenses at their June meeting Thursday.

The guidelines utilize three criteria - consistency with downtown design guidelines, economic impact and applicant experience – to determine how much of the fee would be rebated to anyone applying for a license for an existing building.

Each of the criteria would be graded by each RDA member on a scale of 1 to 5, with 5 being meeting the criteria best, and the authority would then come to a consensus on a final score and award.

“Obviously we need that,” RDA member David Williams said of the flexibility the system would provide. “This is not ever going to be set in concrete.”

City Administrator Brian Yerges added that the RDA will be free to attach any conditions it deems appropriate for return of the license fee.

“I think the whole thing is subjective. There’s a lot of latitude here,” RDA member Jerry Thompson commented.

“I think that’s a good thing,” Williams stated. “I would prefer that we have some leeway in particular circumstances that the committee could all agree on.”

“I think it’s going to be a dynamic document,” RDA Chair Lee Gentine agreeed.

The City Council last year voted to have the fee for new licenses go to the RDA, with the authority to determine any possible rebate. There would be no rebate of the license fee for any new building constructed for that purpose.

In answer to a question from Gentine, Yerges noted that the rebate determination process would not begin until after a license holder has opened for business.

An applicant can apply for the license at any point, he explained, but it is not physically issued by the city until the clerk’s office and the fire chief have certified that the business meets code requirements and is operating.

Yerges also noted that the ordinance requires that a new license holder apply to the RDA for the rebate within six months of being issued their license.

He said city officials could make sure that information on applying for the rebate is made available with the license application.

In other business, Gentine noted that there have been complaints from residents in neighborhoods near downtown about noise late at night from some bars and taverns.

The complaints are most prevalent during the summer, he added, when patrons are often outside establishments on smoking patios or decks, or when music comes through open doors facing residential neighborhoods.

He suggested that the RDA begin looking at the city’s noise ordinance with an eye to updating the rules.

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