Generations liquor license request put on hold

by Emmitt B. Feldner of The Review staff

PLYMOUTH – More questions than answers prompted the City Council Tuesday to delay a decision on a liquor license for Generations.

The intergenerational center is applying for the city’s last available class B beer and liquor license.

“Our intent in submitting this application is we need to bring in additional revenues,” Plymouth Intergenerational Coalition Director Joann Wieland told the council. “We want to provide events like wedding receptions, family reunions and business meetings.”

But City Attorney Crystal Fieber pointed out several sections of the state liquor license laws which could impact Generations’ application.

The first, she said, was a restriction that a license can not be issued for a location within 300 feet of a church or school.

Generations houses the Head Start program and Growing Generations day care, both of which Fieber said could be considered schools. Also, the center hosts Sunday services for the New Life Community Church.

The city is allowed under state law to grant an exemption to that restriction, Fieber added.

Of greater concern, she continued, is the restriction against anyone under the age of 21 being on the premises where a liquor license is held.

Generations’ application outlined the area to be covered by the license as the kitchen area, the gathering space, two meeting rooms and outside patios connected to those areas.

While the day care and Head Start are located in other areas of the building, the center often puts on inter-generational events including those children in other areas of the building, including the gathering space.

“Alcohol would never be served when children are in the building,” Wieland assured the council. She emphasized that events where liquor would be served would only be held at night or on the weekends, when the child care and Head Start are not in session. Any alcohol kept on the premises would be under lock and key except when it is being used.

“We do not intend for this to be a bar or a tavern or to compete with any of them,” she stated.

But Fieber responded that the law says anyone under 21 may not be on the premises at any time, not just during hours when liquor is served, unless they are with a parent, guardian or spouse.

“I’m confused about this,” Wieland commented. “I’m thinking about other institutions and premises in our community where there’s young people in the same place (as a liquor licensee). Look at baseball diamonds, the arts center or restaurants.”

Fieber explained there are specific exemptions for those and similar locations, such as bowling alleys, billiard halls and other amusement facilities.

“But I did not see one (exemption) that fit (Generations). You have a unique situation,” Fieber continued.

The one exemption she found that could be used would be one that requires a license holder to notify local law enforcement any day anyone under the age of 21 would be on their premises.

“That one may work, but it’s rather onerous for administration purposes,” Fieber said.

“For me, the biggest issue is that this is a school,” Alderperson Jim Sedlacek commented.

“One you issue a license to a place of business, they can choose to do what they’d like,” he continued. “I just wonder, if some group comes in and says they want to hold a luncheon (with alcohol), I wonder how long that only having functions on weekends and after 6 p.m. would be the policy?”

“I believe they have their act together and would make appropriate decisions,” Council President Charles Hansen said of the PIC board.

But Hansen went on to concede that the council needed to discuss the issue further in light of the issues raised by Fieber during the meeting.

He proposed referring the application to a Committee of the Whole meeting of the council.

“I believe that would be a good time to get together and discuss this, because (whatever we decide) is going to be city policy,” Hansen explained.

The motion to refer to the Committee of the Whole passed by a vote of 7-1. The no vote came from Alderperson Jackie Jarvis, who stated that she would prefer the city to keep one license in reserve for future economic development.

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