Council seeks more time to study liquor by the drink ordinance
An ordinance that would allow liquor to be sold in restaurants in Baldwin's downtown business district remained a draft Monday night, and Baldwin City Council members have several decisions to make before the ordinance is put to a vote.
The council discussed the ordinance drafted by city attorney Bob Bezek, listened to the concerns of two citizens, and requested answers to questions raised before the issue is discussed again at the Feb. 21 meeting.
If approved, the ordinance would allow restaurants in downtown Baldwin to sell liquor, if the applicant meets certain conditions. Of utmost importance to the council is requiring that at least half of sales be of food rather than alcohol.
"I do not, in any shape or form, want open saloons or the slightest opportunity for open saloons in downtown Baldwin," said Mayor Stan Krysztof. "I can live with a good restaurant serving a drink with a good meal. I do not want open saloons."
In the draft ordinance, Bezek calls for food sales to be at least 50 percent of total sales a standard percentage used across the state. The council could increase the food sales requirement with a charter ordinance, he said.
The council has several other blanks to fill before voting on the ordinance, including setting a distance requirement between restaurants that serve liquor and churches and schools.
A long history
It is an issue that has been discussed on and off again by the council for years and that has garnered the attention of surrounding communities. Mayor Krysztof said the hubbub is about changing the history that founded this town.
"You have a town here that is changing quite a bit," Krysztof said. "Is it right to condemn a certain part of town because of 150-year-old history. We aren't living 150 years ago, we are living in 2000."
Baldwin was founded in 1858 when the Kansas Educational Association of the Methodist Episcopal Church sold 640 acres to raise money to start Baker University. The land deeds carried a restriction that the land could not be used for the making or sale of intoxicating liquors.
Krysztof said the council's consideration of liquor sales in downtown restaurants is a separate issue from the deed restriction which he says is business between the property owner and the Baker University Board of Trustees.
"The issue before us is liquor by the drink and if we want to have it in downtown Baldwin," he said. "The deed restriction is an issue between Baker University and the property owner. That is their question to answer."
The third party
Callahan's Retail Liquor sits on property on U.S. Highway 56 with the same deed restriction as downtown properties, but the university's board has not lifted the restriction, or enforced it.
Baker spokesman John Fuller said the original owner of the liquor store asked Baker University to waive the restriction several years ago.
"We did not," Fuller said of the request. "But we have obviously not taken any action on the restriction."
However, Baker officials are interested in the final outcome of the ordinance.
"We are interested in what the city decides, because we are part of the community," said Fuller. "The simple fact is we have not taken any action. The deeds are probably enforceable no one knows for sure, but they have never been tested."
Two citizens opposed the sale of liquor downtown. Baldwin City Chamber of Commerce office manager Sharole Prahl asked the council to consider how approval of the ordinance could change the Maple Leaf Festival and other widely attended downtown events. Ray Jones stood by the Methodist heritage that founded the community.
"We should be respectful of those people, they had great standards," he said.