Archive for Thursday, August 10, 2006

Bar owners help defeat ordinance

August 10, 2006

Local bar owners rallied together to voice their disapproval of an ordinance that would have limited who could be in their establishments during certain hours. It worked. The ordinance was voted down unanimously by the Baldwin City Council Monday.

The ordinance would have prevented anyone other than owners or employees to be in the establishments from 2 a.m. to 9 A.m. Alcohol can not be sold or consumed during those times by state statute. But, Baldwin police had requested the stiffer ordinance to cut down on people being in the bars after hours.

It didn't set well with bar owners, who insisted they adhere strictly to liquor laws and said there weren't any problems.

"I feel like this is a violation of our property rights," said Peach Madl, who owns The Lodge and bars in Lawrence and Ottawa along with her husband, Ted Madl.

Madl said the ordinance was especially troublesome for their business because as a motel, the bar area is part of a multi-use area. The Lodge is well known as a coffee stop in the morning and the bar area is the designated smoking area. No alcohol is served in the morning, she said.

"We find it very intrusive to have an ordinance restricting our property," she said.

The council asked Police Chief Mike McKenna why the department was seeking the ordinance.

"What brought it up primarily was on weekend nights, the officers were seeing cars at the bars and patrons were still in the premises," said McKenna. "That was as recently as Saturday night until 3:30 a.m. at Puckett's.

"The officers have been in the clubs, but have not issued any citations," he said, adding that patrons continuing to be at the bars can result in fights and assaults. "They really weren't violating any state statute if they weren't serving alcohol. The officers expressed this concern and I spoke to Matt (Hoy, city attorney) and Jeff (Dingman, city administrator) about their concerns."

Council members continued to press for reasons.

"I just want to know how many arrests and how many fights," said Council Member Ted Brecheisen Jr. "It just looks to me like we're passing an ordinance that we don't need."

Mike Magers, owner of the Salt Mine bar, expressed similar concerns as Madl did.

"I guess the thing that bothers me is property rights issues," said Magers. "Seems to me like there isn't an issue here."

He pointed out that if the ordinance was adopted, it would stay on the books and -- for example -- his mother-in-law couldn't be in his business during those hours.

The owners had also met with McKenna and both sides think the communication established will solve any issues.

"Walk throughs by the police at closing time might solve this," said Madl. "We all want a safe place. We don't want anyone to get hurt."

"I agree with Peach," said McKenna. "We had a discussion about being in the clubs. I told Peach I would certainly try to work with them on this matter about people being in the establishments.

"I understand their feeling that this is their property and have the right to have people in there 24-7," he said.

Council members had heard enough.

"I just feel that we're almost penalizing our business owners for something they didn't do," said Council President Amy Cleavinger. "Let's not create a problem when one does not exist."

Brecheisen made the motion to not pass the ordinance, Council Member Doyle Jardon seconded it and all five council members voted against it.

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