City council actions

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February 28, 2011 // UPDATED 8:39 am - February 28, 2011
By: Nick Halter
Nick Halter
Proposed rule changes on patios, liquor stores face opposition

One ordinance aimed at cracking down on loud, outdoor patios and another restricting the distance liquor stores may open from schools and churches got cool receptions at a Minneapolis committee meeting Feb. 14.

Council Member Meg Tuthill (10th Ward) authored both ordinances and they had a public hearing before the City Council’s Regulatory, Energy and Environment Committee.

The first ordinance would impact all bars and restaurants outside of Downtown. Tuthill’s ward includes bars like The Drink, Stella’s Fish Cafe and Uptown Cafeteria, which are known for their popular late-night rooftop patios.

The ordinance would limit the capacity of an outdoor area to the number of seats in the area. In other words, if a bar has 25 outdoor seats, only 25 people could be on the patio.

It would also require bars to turn their outdoor music off at 10 p.m.

Bar staff would have to post a sign in the outdoor area telling patrons to “refrain from creating excessive noise and to respect neighboring resident and property.”

Establishments would have to clean up trash after bar close, within 100 feet of the bar.

Council Member Gary Schiff (9th Ward) questioned how the seating ordinance would address any problems with noise in the neighborhoods.

The ordinance was tabled for two weeks after Council Member Lisa Goodman (7th Ward) told the committee the measure would have unintended affects. Though the ordinance is aimed at residential areas and not downtown, some bars right on the edge of downtown would be subject to the new ordinance.

Goodman used the example of Joe’s Garage near Loring Park. That restaurant has a big rooftop patio, but because it is technically outside of downtown, it would have to follow the proposed ordinance.  

Joe’s Garage, Goodman said, is not a problem in its neighborhood.

“I don’t want to fix what’s not broken,” she said.

The other ordinance related to liquor stores near schools. Liquor stores are subject to many spacing requirements in the city. One of which is that the main entrance cannot be within 300 feet of the main entrance of a school or church.

Tuthill’s ordinance would change that so a liquor store’s front door would be required to be at least 300 feet from a school or church’s property line, not its front door.

There are very few places left outside of downtown that meet city laws for opening a new liquor store. However, one of those spaces is 2546 Hennepin Ave. S. That’s the current site of a U.S. Bank.  According to the landlord, U.S. Bank will be closing that location in September.

Dan Kerkinni is applying for a conditional use permit from the city to open a liquor store in that space. The front door, he said, is 450 feet from the front door of Jefferson Elementary, which is across Hennepin Avenue.

Jefferson Elementary’s front doors sit hundreds of feet from Hennepin Avenue, but students use the grassy area in between as a playground.

Kerkinni said he met with Tuthill a month ago to let her know of his plans, and said he feels she wrote this ordinance as a way to prevent him from opening his business.

“I have not been out in the neighborhood to work against this ordinance,” Tuthill said. “I have been approached … from people that have heard of the potential for a liquor store going in across the street from a school. People are very concerned about it.”

Elizabeth Glidden (Ward 8), the committee chair, said she would not vote for the ordinance at City Council, but the ordinance was forwarded with no recommendation and council members asked staff to find out what implications the ordinance would have beyond Hennepin Avenue.  

Reach Nick Halter at nhalter@mnpubs.com.