Study committee tackles rules on bar license revocation

by Emmitt B. Feldner of The Review staff

PLYMOUTH – How often should a bar license be used for the licensee to continue to hold it?

That’s the question the Ad Hoc Liquor License Ordinance Committee left on the table Thursday.

The group continues to work its way through the 25-page liquor license ordinance with the goal of recommending updates and changes to the City Council.

They reached the section on “abandonment of premises” under “revocation and suspension of licenses” and that generated discussion of how and whether the requirements should be enforced.

“Why aren’t we upholding it – it’s in black and white,” Alderman Greg Hildebrand said of the code that allows the city to pull a license if the business is not operated at least 150 days during the term of the license. Licenses are issued for one year each July 1.

“As I’m looking at what these licenses are for, to me I’ve always thought we have liquor licenses to have economic development,” committee member Sue Kaiser stated. “I like the idea of giving these licenses to businesses to create employment.”

City Clerk/Treasurer Patty Huberty said that the issue of economic development was raised by the City Council a few years ago when several social organizations sought tavern licenses.

Several committee members questioned how the provision applies to the most recent recipients of tavern licenses, specifically the Plymouth Arts Center and the Eagles Club.

City Administrator Brian Yerges pointed out that state law exempts some specific organizations – such as performing arts centers – from many provisions of local ordinances and regulations.

Alderman Charles Hansen noted that, while the city currently has no such licensees, enforcing the 150-day limit could preclude making a license available for a seasonal business – something akin to how Chester’s Drive-In restaurant operates, he pointed out.

Huberty noted that one of the city’s tavern licenses has been issued to a new owner of the former Club 101/Sawdust Pub at 101 E. Mill St. for several years. The business has not been open during that period and has not met the 150-day requirement, but the council has voted to issue the license while the owner continues extensive remodeling of the building with the goal of eventually reopening, she explained.

Committee member Carole O’Malley, owner of De O’Malley’s restaurant and holder of one of the city’s tavern licenses, noted that she went through the same situation with her business – holding the license unused for several years while remodeling before fi- nally opening.

“We need to give the council guidance,” on how the provision should be enforced, O’Malley noted.

In another instance, Mayor Don Pohlman pointed out, the city issued a license to the Lyceum Hall on Smith Street that went unused for several years before the owner finally changed plans and converted the building into apartments rather than reopening the tavern. At that time, the license was returned to the city and reissued to another business.

“I like the examples of some other communities. They have it where the council can review (licenses) every six months and grant an extension that would override this” 150-day requirement, Huberty commented.

Pohlman suggested that the group review the section on abandonment of premises and come back to the committee’s next meeting April 28 with some ideas about what they would like to see the section say.


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