Ordinance up for vote at the Sept. 26 meeting
Sep 21, 2011 | 1383 views | 0 0 comments | 19 19 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Could Metropolis have liquor by the drink on Sundays?

The answer is expected next week when the Metropolis City Council holds its next regular meeting on Sept. 26.

The first reading on an ordinance amending Title XI, Business Regulations, Chapter 110, Alcohol, of the Code of Metropolis was held at the council's meeting on Sept. 12.

According to city attorney Rick Abell, the amendment will permit the sale of alcohol on Sunday by the drink with the purchase of food. Serving hours under the ordinance would be noon to 11 p.m., with "last call" 30 minutes before closing time.

However, there are several requirements:

• The establishment must already hold a liquor license.

• An establishment wanting to operate on Sunday selling liquor by the drink must purchase an additional license, the fee for which would be $150 a year.

• The establishment must have a seating capacity of at least 50.

• The establishment must have a kitchen that's licensed or compliant with health department rules.

• The establishment must have a licensed food handler on site.

• At least 50 percent of the establishment's Sunday's sales have to be with food; in other words, the establishment can't have more than 50 percent alcohol sales.

Abell noted the amendment is "not designed just to promote bars" and package sales are still prohibited on Sundays.

"This strictly authorizes (liquor) by the drink with the purchase of food. Anybody that meets those requirements and already has a license will be eligible — you don't just sell by the drink, the purchaser also has to purchase food," Abell said of the ordinance. "It's very similar to the Paducah situation."

The ordinance amendment also has provisions for clubs and Harrah's Metropolis Hotel. But both have to meet the above requirements.

Sunday liquor by the drink sales has been a frequent item to come before the Metropolis City Council, especially in the last few years.

"The idea is that (the ordinance amendment) would help promote economic development by encouraging local restaurants and potential new restaurants to open and expand their hours and maybe attract more tourist business on a weekend," Abell said.

While any business that meets the requirements and already has a liquor license will be eligible for liquor by the drink on Sundays, "you don't have to participate just because you are a licensee. Economics will probably drive who winds up applying and using these licenses. I don't look for it to be everybody coming in," Abell said.

Along with being a choice, the amendment also provides the option of serving liquor by the drink on Sundays. Participants "don't have to be open every Sunday; it gives you the privilege to do that, it doesn't mean you're required to or be open every Sunday," Abell explained. "We looked at if a club qualified but wanted to have a couple of Sundays on which they did fund-raising activities, they could do that, provided they meet the requirements of the ordinance."

A first reading on a second ordinance was also held during the Sept. 12 meeting. If passed, the ordinance would amend the Code of Metropolis Title IX, General Regulations, Chapter 95, Nuisances — adopting procedures set out in a state statute regarding abandoned residential properties.

Abell explained that currently the city's process of abating properties is giving the owner notice and if there is no response, the city cleans the property up, which usually means mowing or cleaning out junk. In those circumstances, "we're allowed to put a lien on the property for that cost. But in a lot of instances, that lien is behind any existing mortgage or property taxes on the property. It's often really hard for us to enforce our liens because we don't want to pay off the mortgage that's ahead of it."

A law adopted by Illinois around a year ago addresses "the fact that a lot of properties that were going through foreclosure ended up being abandoned and the big, out of town banks might do a foreclosure but not right away," Abell said.

Through the law, cities filing some additional procedures — namely, establishing this property is abandoned and giving notice to the lender — the city's lien can come before that of the bank, providing the city recourse for taking take care of the property.

The amendment requires an abandoned property be vacant for at least 90 days, that abandonment be documented and a finding made. There are also additional notice requirements in regard to the lending institution.

Abell noted the procedure is "a little bit complex and we won't be able to use it on every abatement but when you get a property that is obviously abandoned it will give us some recourse."

At press time, both ordinance amendments were scheduled to be on the council's Sept. 26 meeting agenda.

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