Thursday, Jan. 12

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City mulls liquor licenses          Send a link to a friend

[JAN. 12, 2006]  The Lincoln City Council mulled over liquor code changes proposed by the liquor committee. The amendment was started several months ago when two establishments would no longer meet requirements to stay in the classification that they currently hold and refused to switch classifications.

Businesses selling alcohol must apply annually for license renewals and may be turned down. "It is a privilege that they are granted each year," Mayor Beth Davis said.

The difference between a Class B license and a Class C license is the relative percentages of food and alcohol sales. There are a few businesses where this could change from one year to the next. This year two came in with a higher percentage of food sales, determining that they should switch from B to C, however they refused.

One of the two did later agree to change, Davis said. However, the liquor commission did not want to play hardball with them, she said. So, the liquor commission took the recommendation to modify the liquor code to the city liquor committee.

It also seems there has been some concern that there would not be enough licenses in each category to change to, but that is not so, the mayor said. She said that while there is a limited number of licenses for each class, there are plenty of licenses available for the few that would change from one class to another from year to year. This would not pose a problem.

There are currently 15 Class A licenses, 13 for Class B and eight C licenses in the city of Lincoln.

Class A licenses are for packaged liquor sales.

Class B and C allow alcohol served on the premises.

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The proposed change is to add a restaurant license to Class B. If an establishment has 60 percent or more of its sales in food, rather than alcohol, then it would fall into Class B, which would include a restaurant license, and they would be charged $250 more than a Class C.

Some aldermen felt that to charge more for a license with a higher percentage of sales of alcohol seemed backward. "Why is that?" Daron Whitaker asked. "A place that sells more alcohol would be more of a liability and cost to the city." He cited that there would be more use of police and other city services.

The mayor explained that selling more food would constitute needing a restaurant license in addition to the liquor license, and thatís what they would be getting for their $250 more.

Changing the liquor code has been a daunting task every time it has come up in the past. Sometimes it has just been dropped after it was started. When asked if the ordinance could still be modified, city attorney Bill Bates said, "Every time someone starts talking about the liquor code it drags on to no end. Everyone has an opinion." He said it could still be changed but that he would wait for a consensus from the council on it.

The last change to the liquor ordinance was mid-2002. The Sunday serving hours were rolled back from beginning at 1 p.m. to start at 11 a.m. Establishments wanted to serve their beer for their sports crowd or wine for those serving Sunday brunch.

[Jan Youngquist]


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