The Planning and Zoning Commission will consider a zoning code text change that would expressly prohibit any new establishments operating with a "Café Liquor" permit. A Café Liquor is one of 12 different kinds of liquor permits granted by the State Liquor Control Commission. It allows the sale of liquor by an establishment which does not have a full-service kitchen.
If passed by the Commission, a new nightclub could be approved only if it were associated with a restaurant that offers a full menu of hot food at all times the nightclub is open. According to state statutes, this would be "a diversified selection of food which ordinarily cannot be consumed without the use of tableware and which cannot be conveniently consumed while standing or walking."
Two recent incidents downtown have highlighted problems with nightclubs. Early on New Year's Day in 2010, the entire on-duty police force was called to a disturbance at Public Bar and Grill. The Liquor Control Commission subsequently revoked Public's liquor license. Just two years later, on New Year's day of this year, a street fight outside of Titanium Bar and Lounge required not only all on-duty police officers, but also police from neighboring towns. .
The Planning Department staff provided a memo commenting on the proposed zoning code text change. It notes that these disturbances are part of a larger pattern involving establishments operating under a Café Liquor permit. Our city has 11 Café Liquor, and 13 Restaurant Liquor, and according to the State's database, nearly one-third of Café permittees are subject to a complaint in a given year, as compared to about one-tenth of Restaurant Liquor permittees.
The zoning code text amendment is subject to a Public Hearing, where all interested residents may express their thoughts. The Commission meeting starts at 7PM on Wednesday, in Council Chambers.