A recent request for licenses for a new bar in the former Foxy's location has the city of Port Washington considering changes to its ordinances.
The common council has tabled action on license approvals for Deville’s Lounge while considering its right to refuse issuing a new retail alcohol license to the bar, and potentially adopting further licensing requirements for bars, based on recommendations of city officials.
When the issue of licenses for Deville's was brought up at a recent council meeting, Ald. Paul Neumyer said he would like to see the city ordinances revisited because they may need to be strengthened.
"That is something we would be giving priority to, looking at the whole process," City Administrator Mark Grams said.
The city may deny retail alcohol beverage licenses as long as it's not done arbitrarily, City Attorney Eric Eberhardt said. Furthermore, the council should carefully consider what conditions or limitations it attaches to a new retail alcohol license when the license is issued.
Eberhardt suggested that the city may wish to consider adopting a licensing arrangement like that of Green Bay. Green Bay requires that applicants submit a business plan that details who will operate the business, how it will operate internally and externally and the impact it may have on the community and police services.
In his report to the city about the new licenses, Police Chief Kevin Hingiss encouraged the city to consider more restrictions on bars to help the police department when issues arise at local bars.
"Looking to the future, I would like to see more restrictions on licensed premises," he said in the report.
Hingiss detailed suggestions he said would help the police mitigate or eliminate many issues/concerns associated with licenses premises, plus assist the PWPD in investigating and resolving law enforcement issues including "disorderly conduct/battery to public urination and underage drinking."
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Hingiss' suggestions were to:
- Require a ratio between alcohol/beer sales and food sales, which would lead to a lesser chance of intoxicated patrons;
- Have the establishment provide a specific "smoking area" for its patrons which would eliminate cigarette litter on the street or others' property;
- And require a digital security imaging system to monitor exterior and interior spaces and would help law enforcement in criminal investigations and prosecutions;e also suggested that the establishments be required to maintain the security imaging system in good working order and make video be available to the city for public safety purposes.
The police and city are hoping to forestall problems that they say the city experienced with Foxy's.
Between 2004 and September 2012, the bar was a source of "recurrent calls" for police services for activities inside and outside the bar including disorderly conduct (fighting, public urination, profane language), battery, theft, damage to property, underage drinking or underage people on the premises, noise complaints and resisting or obstructing officers, Eberhardt said.
A sample of police calls to Foxy’s highlighted in Hingiss' report included the following from 2012:
- Bar staff called police to report that a man they had kicked out for being unruly had come back. The man was cited for disorderly conduct.
- People leaving the bar were warned for being noisy. One man was cited after police had to warn him a second time.
- Officers on patrol heard a possible fight in progress and witnessed a large number of people leaving. Investigation led to citations being issued for underage drinking and underage people on the premises. One person was arrested for an outstanding warrant.
- Bar staff reported a patron with a fake identification. Two citations were issued for underage alcohol consumption and misrepresentation of age by an underage person.
- A noise complaint was called in. The police officer watched the tavern for 30 minutes and observed no citable violations although there was an increase in noise level due to the volume of customers. Bar security staff were warned to monitor their guests better.
As part of the current approval process, the building inspector and fire chief inspect the property and the police do a background check on the applicants. The common council has tabled action on license approvals for Deville’s Lounge until all inspections and reports have been completed.