Adding liquor licenses
Marinette committee recommends increasing Class A total
Monday, October 28, 2013 7:00 PM
MARINETTE - Six additional Class A liquor licenses will be recommended to be added to the local quota by the Marinette Personnel & License Committee at the next city council meeting.
Committee member John Marx said he realizes he had previously voted on keeping the local quota at nine licenses, but is now questioning whether that really is the right move for the city.
"We regulate Class A liquor license with a number. How many other businesses do we put restrictions on? Do we only allow so many printers, gas stations, or funeral homes?" Marx asked. "I'd like to see competition determine who is doing the better job and who is selling the better liquor."
The current quota only allows for nine Class A liquor licenses within the City of Marinette. The quota would be raised to 15 if the recommendation passes at the council meeting. City Clerk Jim Anderson said he knows of at least four different businesses that would be interested in obtaining a Class A license.
Committee member Ken Keller mentioned that he has seen documents illustrating how the amount of liquor stores in an area directly correlates with the amount of crime in the same area. He did not have any documents to support his claim for the committee at the time.
A Class A liquor license allows a business such as a convenience or a grocery store to sell liquor for at-home consumption. Restaurants and other places that require the liquor to be consumed on the premises have to obtain a Class B liquor license for their operations.
The issue of the quota came up at a previous Personnel & License Committee meeting when the previous owner of Cleveland Avenue Foods (formerly Curry's Foods) wanted to transfer its Class A liquor license to the new owners.
A local business attorney, Mike Perry, representing Mike Biehl, owner of several local businesses, stood up at the last meeting to protest simply handing the new owners the Class A liquor license when there was such a high demand for it in the community.
"We're a growing community," Perry had said. "We've got all of this growth with Marinette Marine workers coming in and the council has to realize it is stifling our growth by limiting these licenses. We've got big businesses showing interest."
In another matter, there will be a change in the city's public employee residency requirement. The committee proposed changing it to requiring public employees to live within 15 miles of the city's boundaries instead of 20 miles from City Hall, in order to be compliant with a new state ordinance.
The change will leave a handful of current public employees outside of the 15-mile limit, but Sbar said they will be grandfathered into the new ordinance.
"Instead of making those people move five miles closer, I can write (the ordinance) so it will say except for the employees already living within the 20-mile boundary," Sbar added. "Its kind of a hardship to expect them to move closer and we've never had a problem with it before."
The committee members are still looking at changing their policy guidelines when it comes to granting alcohol beverage operator licenses. Marx said he would rather not give a license to someone who seems to disregard city and state ordinances on a regular basis.
When we provide an individual with a license, they are expected to hold up the city's ordinances," Marx added. "Some of these applications come in ... and their history shows a total disregard for state and city ordinances. I think we should be a little more selective on who we are giving these licenses to."
The committee members agreed to allow Sbar to look into what other cities have for policy guidelines and present his findings at the next committee meeting.