Council approves licenses

by Emmitt B. Feldner of The Review staff

PLYMOUTH – Tavern license holders in the city will be counting tills and counting days for the next year.

The City Council approved the list of alcohol license applications Tuesday, but only after discussion with several license holders concerning the status of their businesses.

At issue was a clause in the city’s liquor license ordinance that allows any licensed premise to be considered abandoned if the business is not operated for at least 150 days during the license year.

After the provision was examined by the Ad Hoc Liquor License Ordinance Study Committee, city officials contacted four tavern license holders they thought might be in violation – Plymouth Eagles Club, Plymouth Tap, Plymouth Art Foundation and Rosetti’s Turner Hall.

Turner Hall will be reopening with new owners and a new name – ReBar – so the council approved that license.

Plymouth Tap owner Kevin Fetterer told the council his remodeling work at the 101 E. Mill St. building is within months of completion.

That work has been ongoing for several years, while Fetterer has been holding but not using one of the city’s 16 tavern licenses.

Fetterer did note that he owns several other bars in the county and said that he was unaware of any other community in the county with a similar 150-day provision.

Spokespeople for the Eagles Club and the PAC both told the council they were unaware of the 150- day provision in the city code until it was pointed out to them by city staff.

“We saw it was (titled) an abandonment clause and we said, ‘we’re not abandoned,’ so we didn’t read any further,” Tom Slater of the PAC commented.

At the city’s request, the PAC supplied figures showing they sold alcohol at public events 66 days over the last year. Slater added that the PAC had a licensed operator (bartender) and liquor on the prem- ises for nearly every day of the years.

“It’s not our primary business, but if 150 days is it, we can make that happen,” Slater said of the PAC’s license.

The council voted to renew the PAC’s license by a vote of 6-1, with Alderman John Nelson voting no and Jim Faller absent.

Diane Gilson of the Eagles Club also told the council her group was unaware of the 150-day provision until they were notified of it.

“It’s true that we have not been open,” to the public for at least 150 days in the past year, Gilson admitted.

“But we have bartenders and we are now open four days a week,” she added. “Had the Eagles Club been aware of the 150 day provision, I’m sure we would have found a way to comply.”

She noted that the club had been hoping to finish some interior remodeling, including a bathroom, “But that didn’t move along fast enough, so we decided to open up at the end of May.”

Alderman Greg Hildebrand originally moved to begin the license denial process against the Eagles Club after City Attorney Crystal Fieber explained that denying a license requires a public hearing before the council and can be appealed.

“One comment that bothers me is that they were unaware of the 150 days,” Alderman David Williams observed. “It bothers me that we’re going to hold them to something we never told them about. We didn’t know about it but we expected them to know about it.”

“We’ve never been in this circumstance where we had to look at this particular part of the city ordinance,” City Clerk/Treasurer Patty Huberty admitted. “We all should know what the code is but nobody memorizes it.”

Gilson told the council that not having a liquor license would hurt the club’s business and added that, if the club could not get a liquor license, it would seek a beer license instead.

With Gilson’s assurance that the Eagles Club is aware of and intends to comply with the 150-day provision, the council unanimously defeated the motion to deny the license and voted unanimously to grant it to the club.

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