A motion to discuss and vote on a temporary moratorium on amusement licenses failed when it was not seconded during the June 14 village council meeting.
Amusement applications, though defined and regulated in the liquor code, haven’t been enforced in years, and the topic of temporarily disallowing amusement uses, such as disc jockeys or live music, was discussed at length by the ad hoc committee put together to find solutions to the current problems with bars on Madison Street. Committee members supported enforcing the code, which requires any establishment wishing to provide amusement to fill out an application from the village.
Amusement, in the current liquor code, is defined as “any public show, theatrical, animate or inanimate exhibition, musical, music, mechanical or manually operated entertainment device.”
The ordinance on the May 13 agenda would have imposed a moratorium until Sept. 6 “on the acceptance and processing of applications and the issuance of amusement licenses.”
But the temporarily hold on amusement permits would have applied only to A1 liquor license holders, bars that don’t get at least half their revenue from food and the same establishments still forced to close at 11 p.m.
During the meeting, Commissioner Ryan Nero made the motion to bring the item up for discussion, but none of the other commissioners seconded it, so it failed.
After the meeting, the commissioners explained their rationale for not seconding the item and shared their thoughts on the ordinance as proposed.
Commissioner Joe Byrnes took issue with the fact that the ordinance as written would apply only to A1 liquor license holders and didn’t include A licensees, who as of June 16 were once more allowed to stay open past 11 p.m.
“Why would we want to make things even harder for the A1 licenses?” asked Byrnes in an interview with the Review. He pointed out that A licensees (that derive at least half their revenue from food sales) and A8 licensees (public event spaces such as Urban Pioneer Group, which recently had its liquor license temporarily suspended) were not included.
Byrnes also said he was frustrated by the fact that he knew nothing about the ordinance until he got the agenda packet on Friday for a Monday evening meeting. Despite the fact that village attorneys had worked on and written the ordinance, he said, he hadn’t been informed about it or asked for his input on it ahead of time.
“If I get the ordinance on Friday afternoon and have questions, who am I supposed to ask?” Byrnes questioned. “I need to know about issues sooner. If I don’t, I won’t make a motion, I won’t second one, and I’ll vote no.”
He said that the elected officials are the ones who were chosen to make decisions, and if they’re only brought into the process at the very end, with little explanation or time to ask questions, the system doesn’t work.
“I’m not a rubber stamp,” Byrnes said.
Nero said he made the motion to discuss the ordinance for the purpose of talking about it publicly, but he said he thought the ordinance needed more fleshing out.
“There was additional information and facts that needed to be part of the ordinance, making it more robust, so it is not simply a band aid to be revisited at another time,” Nero said. If the motion had been seconded, he said he would have wanted to hear from the mayor the rationale behind making the rule apply only to A1 liquor license holders.
“I respect the other commissioners who felt strongly enough about this not to second it,” Nero said.
Commissioner Jessica Voogd said she didn’t second the motion because she felt the ordinance didn’t include enough detail, and she had outstanding questions, like Byrnes and Nero, about why it applied only to A1 licensees.
“It seems like there is still work to be done on the ordinance,” Voogd said.
During his mayor’s report at the end of the meeting, Hoskins gave further explanation of the ordinance, stating that the short section of the current liquor code that applies to amusement permits was adopted in the 1980s. He said he, Police Chief Tom Aftanas, Village Administrator Moses Amidei and two village attorneys met recently to talk about the liquor code, after which the directive was given to the attorneys to update the ordinance on amusements.
“What this measure would have done is it would have simply put on hold the issue of amusement licenses until we have an effective ordinance to regulate those,” Hoskins said. He indicated that the issue may be brought before the council again.