Alcohol proposals’ fallout


Two potentially contentious ordinance modifications related to the retail sale of alcohol and the noise generated from outdoor bars outside of downtown were proposed to the Regulatory, Energy and Environment Committee (REEC) on February 14 and authored by Ward 10 Council Member Meg Tuthill.

The first modification proposes that retail liquor stores now be required to be 300 feet from a school or church’s property line, not just its front door. Supporting information from city staff reads, “staff has received feedback from the community that the front door to front door measurement is not a true standard if portions of the church or school property fall within 300 feet. This may include a school playground or a parking lot with entrances to the school or church. A preliminary evaluation of the city reveals seven areas may no longer qualify for an off-sale establishment if this amendment is approved. These areas are evenly distributed throughout Minneapolis.”

One of those locations is a potential liquor store opening at 2546 Hennepin Avenue across the street from Jefferson Elementary School. Its property line is within 300 feet of the front door of the proposed store location. Daniel and Pierre Kerkinni would like to open a store there and have indicated that they will utilize driver’s license scanners at every register to card everyone.

James Ronnei, an Uptown resident and father of two kids ages three and six says, “the proposing owner failed the common sense test. Here’s my quote of the day: ‘if you need to enlist a tape measure and a legal team to determine whether or not your liquor outlet is too close to the elementary school, guess what? You’re too damn close to the school!’ Doesn’t this guy have kids?”

The LHENA Board of Directors, the neighborhood where Jefferson is located, unanimously voted to support, but defer to the East Isles Residents Association (EIRA) (where the liquor store might go) position on the proposed liquor store application. EIRA’s next meeting is March 1.

The REEC sent the proposal to the City Council without recommendation.

Bar Crowd Noise Proposal

Some of the major changes in this proposal include: 1-outdoor occupancy limited by the amount of seats available, 2-all outdoor amplified music must be off by 10 p.m., 3-only outdoor tables could be served – patrons would not be allowed to be served at an outdoor bar, 4-businesses must clean up trash after the closing of the bar within 100 feet of the establishment. Although Randy Stanley, Divisional Vice President for Parasole Restaurant Holdings states that their Uptown Cafeteria rooftop bar is technically “not an outdoor bar” because it is intentionally built in an enclosed shell.

Council Member Tuthill explains the motivation for this proposal. “The change to the outdoor patio ordinance is an outgrowth of the work I began last May regarding late night problems that were occurring in the greater Uptown area. When I was door knocking the noise issues were the number one concern I heard, even more than property taxes. I’m responding to what the community has been asking for.

Brad Bridwell, Managing partner for Old Chicago responds that “the proposal appears to curtail the restaurants that have been a problem with a blanket proposal and seems unfair.”

Past 49 year Uptown resident and current community organizer Pat Fleetham supports the plan. “I do think some of the outdoor establishments have an over crowding issue which lends itself to more noise generating crowds.”

James Ronnie likes some of the proposal but doesn’t think “the number of patrons should be limited to the number of seats. As a patron, that doesn’t make sense to me. I’d always want to be able to go out for fresh air and the view, regardless of the seats available.”

Tuthill explains how the proposal is designed to work, “the changes to this ordinance will give both licensing and communities better tools to monitor outdoor areas…” It is a step toward creating and maintaining a balance between the needs of the businesses and the needs of the communities.”

Kim Bartmann, owner of four establishments in Tuhill’s ward, including Barbette and Bryant Lake Bowl was frustrated with the proposal. “Why would we want to get more people off of the street when it’s safer to have more from a crime standpoint (referring to street level seating). Just because Meg has some problem properties in her ward doesn’t mean the rest of us should have to suffer. Many restaurant operators have expressed concern about the proposal to me.”

This proposal was postponed one cycle until the February 28 Meeting of the REEC.

After initial presentations for both proposals Council Member Tuthill said, “based on questions and comments from the council committee and from community members, staff was directed to work on revisions to both ordinances.”