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Port Liquor License Laws Strengthened in Shadow of Foxys' Closure

The Port Washington Common Council introduced an ordinance on Tuesday night that would require a business plan as well as security plan from applicants hoping to obtain a liquor license.

Modeling the changes in large part on Green Bay's alcohol licensing process, the Port Washington Common Council on Tuesday night introduced an ordinance that would require both a business plan and security plan from applicants hoping to open an alcohol-related business in Port.

The idea to strengthen the alcohol license ordinance sprouted after the closure of Foxys Bar and the controversial denial of a license to hopeful business owner Troy Koput that followed. Koput had been trying to launch Deville's Lounge, but his license was denied in December.

City Attorney Eric Eberhardt read the proposed ordinance to the Common Council during its Tuesday night meeting.

"This is a draft, to talk about or agree or disagree with  — but it's a starting point," he said.

The ordinance details requirements for license applicants looking to open a new business:

  • A business plan describing items such as hours of operation, type of music or entertainment planned, type of food, potential negative impacts on the surrounding neighborhood, and how the business will handle these issues; 
  • A security plan agreed to after meeting with Port Washington Police Chief Kevin Hingiss, including ideas such as trained security staff, cameras on the premises, limits on patrons in the buildings and more.

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 it complies with sanitary regulations and other codes and ordinances.

Some aldermen expressed concern over requiring businesses to have cameras on site, and the council also discussed the long process this could create should a business simply want its ownership to change hands with a family member, for example.

Ald. Doug Biggs also pointed out that though the new ordinance creates guidelines for a new business or renewal applicant — it doesn't mean that just because these items are met satisfactorily the council has to approve a license.

"It doesn’t actually take away the prerogative of the council for reasons such as 'We don't feel this type of establish is appropriate for the city,'" Biggs said."(This) doesn't force us to grant a license just because they have complied with all of these stipulations."

The council will hold a public hearing regarding the ordinance during its Feb. 5 meeting, City Administrator Mark Grams said, adding that all existing license holders would be sent a notice about the meeting. The final draft would go before the council for approval at its Feb. 20 meeting.

Tim Schwister January 24, 2013 at 02:34 PM
This is ridiculous.
Tim Schwister January 24, 2013 at 02:40 PM
First of all, this is ridiculous. Requiring disclosure for approval of what kind of music will be played and what kind of food will be served is draconian and a violation of the idea of free enterprise. Requiring security cameras is also a violation of a businesses right to conduct their business the way they see fit within a privately owned building, much in the same way as the smoking ban is a violation of that right. The common council seems much too interested in making things easy for city officials than making businesses viable in this city. They could be seen to be actively discouraging increased tax revenue for the city as well as discouraging the creation of jobs.
Rik Kluessendorf January 24, 2013 at 05:22 PM
My biggest concerns are in Alderman Biggs' reported comments. If I'm understanding properly, he is saying that the new standards are good, provided we still have the ability to reject businesses simply for the fact that we don't like them (going back to the idea of arbitrariness, apparently). If we aren't streamlining the process and making it more transparent and clear to incoming businesses what they have to do to be approved... what's the point again?
Greg January 24, 2013 at 06:19 PM
Do events like Fish Day require a Liquor License?
Tim Schwister January 25, 2013 at 12:07 AM
Yes. They do. It is good for one day, and fairly inexpensive. Usually they are given to local clubs with no hesitation. The Kiwanis, Masons, and Lion's clubs, among others, do not have to deal with much scrutiny for a one day license. It's not really an issue.
Greg January 25, 2013 at 01:11 AM
It would be interesting if they had to comply with the requirements listed above.
Kathy February 03, 2013 at 10:40 PM
This is Koo Koo Crazy! I really coughed when I read that the plan must include what negative impact the business MIGHT have and how the business plans to deal with it. Boy - nothing says Port is open for businesslike this! Festivals - Yup, port festivals fill out paperwork with list of names and PRESTO! Approved. I was listed for Maritime Festival, did not even know, was not asked for Drivers Lisc. Birth date nothing but my name appeared. Go figure. Fish Day literally owns the city for a day.
Greg Huegerich February 05, 2013 at 08:20 PM
Maybe the emphasis should be on the renewal process, not the initial license application/allocation? It seems to me, many of the problems faced with some of the older bars in the area built up over time and were not immediate issues. Having a few extra hooks to deny a renewal would mean they could take a softer approach to a place opening up for the first time. My guess is, the extra scrutiny on new applicants comes from the fact that its very difficult for the council to deny a renewal if the establishment becomes a problem. I'm really only ok with the security camera thing if it gets applied to all license renewal requests as well as the initial applicants.

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