Officials Taking Another Shot at Liquor Ordinance
After concerns and suggestions from Port Washington business owners surfaced regarding the proposed changes to the city's liquor ordinance, officials have reworked some of the wording in the law, which will now wait until early March for approval.
Port Washington officials continue to clean up wording of the new liquor ordinance while addressing concerns from city business owners, and approval of the law has now been pushed back a couple weeks.
City officials met with several business owners on Wednesday afternoon to dicuss the ordinance, and concerns surrounding the required security plan seemed to continue to top the list.
In applying for a liquor permit, new business owners will be required to present an agreed upon security plan between themselves and Police Chief Kevin Hingiss, and Ald. Jim Vollmar said that leaves him concerned about the potential tenants' rights to negotiate what a responsible security plan might be.
"It's got to be fair for everybody, and there's got to be a method (for) a hearing if you disagree," Ald. Jim Vollmar said. Port's drafted ordinance is modeled heavily on that of Green Bay, where Hingiss said applicants can still present their plans to a licensing committee without the police's recommendation if a security agreement is not reached — and that committee could still approve the permit; Port's ordinance is currently not worded to allow that process.
The security plan as described in the ordinance includes ideas such as trained security staff, cameras on the premises and limits on patrons in the buildings, among other details.
Business owners have been quick to express concern about requiring security cameras, as well.
Maria Kiesow of Pasta Shoppe said the restaurant has security cameras inside the building but have still had theft among employees — and it's not always detectable on the cameras.
"Cameras I don't think are always the answer," she said.
Cathy Wilger, director of sales at Holiday Inn, said a hotel within the company was sued because of a crime that happened, and was caught on camera — but that employees didn't see take place.
"It is a liability to the business, too, to have cameras in their establishments," she said, "and I just want you to be aware that that can happen."
But Hingiss is just as quick to offer his support of security cameras, citing the ability of that video to aid a police officer in doing his job.
Port Washington Main Street Executive Director Sara Grover acknowledged these concerns of existing business owners, but said that she has spoken to a lot of potential new business owners to Port locations that have been talking about security as a priority.
The ordinance also requires new business owners to submit a business plan with their application. Some of the ordinance changes would also have an impact on current business owners when they renew each year, including building inspections to be sure the establishment complies with sanitary regulations and other codes and ordinances.
Though the ordinance already had a first reading at the late January Common Council meeting, City Administrator Mark Grams said the council will redo that first reading at its Feb. 20 meeting in light of the many changes.
"We'll clean it up a little bit again, but what you've got now is 90 percent of what's in (the ordinance)," Grams told business owners of the current draft.
The council will the consider final approval at its March 5 meeting. The meetings start at 7:30 p.m. at Port Washington City Hall.