City Hall Update: Bars and churches, neighbors?

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November 21, 2011
By: Nick Halter
Nick Halter
City amendment would allow churches, bars to be neighbors  

Do pews and pubs belong together?

A city committee says so, voting to do away with parts of an old ordinance that prohibits certain types of bars and microbreweries from encroaching on 300-foot buffer zones around churches.

Under current city law, a restaurant can’t open within 300 feet of a church if more than 30 percent of its gross sales come from alcohol. Also, microbreweries aren’t allowed to sell pints or growlers from their facility.

But an amendment making its way to the City Council will change that. Introduced by City Council Member Gary Schiff, restaurants will only have to sell the standard 60:40 ratio of food to alcohol and microbreweries will be able to sell on premise.

The church rules don’t apply downtown and there are old bars around town that have been grandfathered in before the 70:30 requirement.

“This is a piece of red tape that is hurting small businesses in Minneapolis,” Schiff said.

At a public hearing on Nov. 7, City Hall was filled with opponents and proponents of a proposed microbrewery at 1300 2nd St. NE, which is directly across the street from St. Cyril’s Church.

Rob Miller, the owner of Dangerous Man Brewing Company, has worked with Schiff on the ordinance change, but that was to the chagrin of some of the St. Cyrill’s members.

“This just seems like spot zoning,” said church member Patty Hillmeyer, who along with other members expressed concern over the behavior of patrons.

But Miller and others argued that small breweries like Dangerous Man don’t attract that kind of crowd.

Craig Pederson, the pastor of Northeast Community Lutheran Church just a few blocks away, said he supported Miller’s plans, and looked forward to sharing a pint of craft brew once the brewery opened.

“I’m really most concerned with economic development and opportunities in our neighborhoods,” Pederson said, “and I feel this is one more opportunity not only to bring some new jobs, but also an opportunity to gather in the community.”

The full City Council will likely vote on the ordinance amendment at its Nov. 18 meeting, after this issue of The Journal went to press.

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City, Public Radio launch interactive audio tour of public art

If you’re wondering why the walleye in a sculpture near the Minneapolis Convention Center are smiling at you, don’t ponder the question. Call the artist himself.

“My intent was to animate them a little bit, and have them engage the viewer,” explains sculptor Foster Wiley in a recorded phone message.

His sculptures, which lead visitors from the Convention Center to Nicollet Mall, are one of 13 “Sound Points” around the city that allow viewers to call, text or scan a barcode and receive an artist explanation.

Sound Points launched in early November. It’s a collaboration between Minnesota Public Radio and the city of Minneapolis’s Art in Public Places program.

Signs near each piece of artwork provide phone numbers and QR codes that can be read by
smart phones. Viewers can also leave a voice or text message sharing
their thoughts on the piece, as well as to share a story about their neighborhood with journalists through MPR’s Public Insight Network.

The 13 Sound Points are scattered about the city, with several in The Journal’s coverage area, including:

• In Flux, Double Flux, Innovation Field and Edison High School sign at Jackson Square

• Tilted Bowl Fountain at 3rd and Main Street

• The 35W Bridge Remembrance Garden

• Lake Street USA at 250 4th St. S.

• Employment of Nature, on Nicollet Mall between 3rd and 4th streets

 • The Field at 2nd and Marquette.  

Reach Nick Halter at nhalter@mnpubs.com.