Alcohol license

To the Editor:

On April 29, 2014, the Common Council of the city of Plymouth denied the application for an Alcohol Beverage Retail License for Plymouth Intergenerational Coalition. In communication sent to the executive director and board of directors by the city clerk, several reasons were given to explain the denial. This document serves as our appeal of this denial. We shall address each of these reasons.

Chapter 125 of the Wisconsin State Statute states that the local municipality has the ultimate authority to waive the specific statutes mentioned in the denial.

The first is a section of Wis. Statute Section 125.68 (3) and Municipal Code 7-2-13 (f), which states that it is prohibited from issuing a license for a “premises of which the main entrance is less than 300 feet from the main entrance of a public school or church.” Attorney Crystal Fieber had determined that Growing Generations Child Care and the Head Start classrooms could be considered a school. So we measured from the main entrance of the Child Care Center to the Main entrance of Generations, and it is well over 300 feet. They are on two different floors and there is a locked door in between. The entire childcare section can be locked off from the rest of the building, and it was intentionally designed that way for security purposes. In addition, to specifically address concerns over the possible serving of alcohol while minors were present, a policy on alcohol use was created. Among other things, the policy states: “Alcohol will never be available or served before 6:00 p.m. on days that children are present in the building for Growing Generations, Head Start or 4-k programs.”

The second item mentioned was the fact that the city does not have the authority to “limit hours of operation for licensed premises beyond the limitations provided in the statutes” and that there might be a problem with enforcement. Despite Generations’ good faith efforts and the creation of an alcohol use policy agreed upon by the board of directors, the council was concerned about compliance in the future. The city has always been considered a partner of Generations and together currently have an agreement to offer programming for the Plymouth Adult Community Center. Should PIC’s board of directors change their policy on alcohol use at some future date, the city would have the option of ending their agreement with Generations. The city of Plymouth police chief, Jeffrey Tauscheck, has stated that he does not see a problem with enforcement.

The third item addressed in the denial was PIC’s mission. We do not agree that granting of a liquor license to PIC to provide additional revenue to keep our non-profit’s rent affordable is in opposition to our mission. Over the many years that the PIC board worked to build the Generation’s building, with the city’s support, revenues from events and other uses of the building, were always openly part of the pro forma. The additional revenue is absolutely necessary to provide the funds needed to sustain this building every day for the many, many people who enjoy it, without going back to our original donors for additional funding to sustain the building. For some, a clear understanding of what an intergenerational facility is can be difficult to understand. We have been “pioneers” from the beginning, developing a model that is unique with no precedents. We are asking you to look at the “big picture,” the benefits that our organization has brought to this community, and to support our efforts. The Generations building is multipurpose; it hosts a senior center, play groups for children and grandchildren, a meal site, a school, church groups, counseling sessions, exercise classes, t-ball games, foot clinics, physical therapy, pickle/bocce/ball/ horseshoe games, and community fundraisers. A competent staff and dedicated board of directors schedules and manages all these activities to the best of their abilities. Should a liquor license be granted, a policy on alcohol use will be put into practice and enforced. It is not under the authority of the City Council to dictate the mission of organizations applying for a liquor license. And, that mission has never been criteria, or a point of discussion for any other applicant in the past.

The fourth and final rationale given for the denial of the license was that it would only be used occasionally, not open to the public. We’re not sure where this assumption came from, but that is not the intent. The intent is to provide an opportunity for families to use this beautiful facility for occasions that create memories like weddings, birthday parties, life celebrations, anniversary parties and wedding and baby showers that help young families to get started. It also might be used for fundraising events for any of our tenants, or other non-profits, churches and charities from throughout the county, who would welcome members of the public. Other proposed uses include class reunions (we had three potential bookings for these last year, but because we did not have a liquor license we lost them), family reunions, business gatherings and holiday parties. These types of events are intended to not only provide additional revenue for PIC that is needed to pay for the operational expenses of Generations, but to bring business into the community. It is a known fact, that these kinds of events produce additional customers at area restaurants, gift shops, convenience stores, gas stations, and hotels that not only provide tax revenue for the city, but profits to local business owners as well. We are proud of the facility that Generations has become and want to be in the position of sharing it with the individuals and families who will benefit from its use.

Joann Van Horn Wieland, executive director, Generations; and the Board of Directors of the Plymouth Intergenerational Coalition

P.S. We encourage you to contact your city’s leadership about this issue to express your viewpoint. You don’t have to reside in the city to support us, as Generations is a facility that benefits everyone in Sheboygan County. We also ask that you please join us at 8 p.m. Tuesday, July 29, at City Hall. And tell your friends! Let the City Council know that this is a critical issue in continuing Generation’s success into the future! Thank you!

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