Generations license veto override fails

by Emmitt B. Feldner of The Review staff

PLYMOUTH – A tie went to the mayor.

The City Council Wednesday failed to override Mayor Donald Pohlman’s veto of a liquor license for the Generations intergenerational center.

The vote was 4-4, with council members Jim Faller, Jack Fernsler, Charles Hansen and Jim Sedlacek voting to override. A twothirds majority – six votes – was required to override the veto.

It was the latest chapter in the on-again, off-again saga of the liquor license for the Plymouth Intergenerational Coalition, which was first denied by the council in April, then approved at the July 29 meeting, only to have that approval vetoed by the mayor the next day.

Pohlman defended the rationale he used for his action in his veto memo under questioning from Council President Hansen.

“I do not believe that needs any further explanation,” Pohlman stated, although he did respond to Hansen’s questions on the four points. “I’m not trying to convince anyone to change their vote. Anybody on the council can read the ordinance and use their judgment. I used my judgment.”

During the audience section of the council agenda, eight speakers urged the council to overturn the veto.

They emphasized the center’s need for income from events offering alcohol in order to keep rents low for non-profit groups housed in the building and keep the center viable.

Fernsler concurred, stating, “If we do not approve this (license), we are taking something out of the hands of Generations so they can sustain themselves.”

Speakers also stressed that events with alcohol would be limited to hours when children and other underage people are not present in the building.

In addition to Pohlman’s reasons for his veto, several members of the council added their concern over the impact of the license on other businesses as a reason to uphold the veto.

“As a council, we support businesses throughout this community,” Alderman Shawn Marcom stated. “You can not tell me that they will not take business from some of those businesses. I certainly did hear comments from business owners in the city concerned about (the impact of) a liquor license for Generations.

“I am a supporter of Generations, but I do resent the implication that if I vote no to override I will somehow not be a supporter of Generations,” Marcom continued. “The city of Plymouth is one of the largest supporters (of Generations) in terms of money and we will continue that support.”

Alderman David Williams, the council’s representative to the PIC board of directors, echoed Marcom’s comments.

He called what he termed ‘Either you’re for us or you’re not’ comments from Generations supporters tying support of the liquor license to support of the center “baloney.

“It’s a gem out there that needs to be supported and will be supported, but still I hear we don’t support them and I’m tired of that,” Williams added.

He also expressed fear that, while the current PIC board has pledged to strictly limit the hours the license would be used, Williams noted that such restrictions would not be binding into the future.

“Unless they give it up or there are violations serious enough for us to pull out, it’s there’s forever after and they can do as they darn well please as far as hours,” Williams said of the license. “It’s not always going to be the same dedicated people on the PIC board.”

Both he and Alderman John Nelson urged PIC and Generations to explore other options for fundraising and hosting events that would not include alcohol.

“I think there have been blinders put on that the only way Generations succeeds is through a liquor license,” Nelson commented.

At one point during the council discussion, several members of the audience of more than 40 people, mostly Generations license supporters, made some disparaging remarks about council members speaking in favor of upholding the veto, which drew a sharp response from Sedlacek.

Sedlacek said what he characterized as insults of council members could persuade him to change his vote to uphold the veto, although in the end he did not.

Hansen, too, urged audience members to show restraint.

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