While we do not see the UrbaneBlog.com as a political site, we do want to highlight things of interest, particularly potential development of new business, restaurants, hip and cool happenings and general things going on and like things of interest. Our friend Frank Versagi and his blog Voice, does an excellent job at covering Royal Oak Politics.
Franks most recent coverage of the Liquor Control Committee meeting on May 13 regarding BlackFinn’s request to open a 2-story alcohol-serving restaurant (with a 245-person dance floor on the upper level) may be of interest to our readership. We have copied below straight from Frank’s blog the meeting observations.
What is the Liquor Control Committee?
Three members of the City Commission sit on the LCC, as does the City Manager and the City Attorney. Because the LCC’s recommendations must be approved by CITCOM, city hall observers can learn all they need to know by monitoring CITCOM meetings, unless a specific interest requires their presence at the LCC gathering. As at CITCOM, the public can participate either during Public Comment or during a Public Hearing concerned with a specific agenda item.
The 13 May 09 Meeting
Commissioner Terry Drinkwine chaired a longer-than-usual meeting of the city’s Liquor Control Committee (actually, subcommittee) which covered a lot of ground: amended plans of operation; transfer, or not, of liquor licenses; and permits for outdoor service. In addition to Public Comment, there were four Public Hearings, so several attendees spoke more than once. Drinkwine and Commissioner Gary Lelito were joined by Commissioner Chuck Semchena, who sat in for out-of-town Commissioner Stephen Miller.
Decisions were reached about such matters as a portable bar for an outside cafe (Oxford Inn); expansion of rooftop service over the roof space of other business in the building (Memphis Smoke); outdoor service (Peking House); liquor license transfer (“Q” Detroit Barbecue); and dance permit and liquor license transfer (BlackFinn). Actually, making a decision about the last item was postponed because of a potential legal side-issue, described briefly below. Then, there was more exploration about developing an ordinance to permit Bistro licenses in Royal Oak.
Though politely conducted, the dialogue of BlackFinn’s request to open a 2-story alcohol-serving restaurant (with a 245-person dance floor on the upper level) was the most intense. From the commissioners and the attendees came differing positions:
The addition of a 400-person restaurant at the south end of Main will establish another mega bar and overwhelm city services, including police and code enforcement. . . . Semchena labeled the proposed facility “a nightclub, not a restaurant.”
Essentially what remains is for CITCOM itself to examine the several approaches to the concept and decide whether to work out the details of a proposed ordinance or to drop the idea.
400 people means 200 cars. . . . Parking won’t be a problem, because a new 200-car structure is being built nearby. . . . Great, so the result will be that our net parking capacity will go backwards.
BlackFinn offers to pay the compensation for an additional police officer. . . . Wonderful, we set a precedent for bribing the city by buying a cop.
BlackFinn contends that the building, the south end of which has been vacant for years, “was erected with the city’s original acceptance of the concept in mind.” To keep the building, “viable,” the concept, “including transfer of an outside license, must be honored.” Laymen see another lawsuit against the city.
Lelito was for denying BlackFinn’s request outright. Semchena, former city attorney, made it clear that he would vote to deny the request but cited the need to determine the validity the owner’s memory re the city’s original commitment. With that in mind, LCC decided to postpone the decision and to direct City Attorney Dave Gillam to review the records.
There was dialogue about Bistro licenses, and Lelito asked line-by-line questions about Semchena’s discussion draft, which Chuck had placed on the shelf with the agenda and minutes of the night’s meeting. As only one example of conflicting downtown interests, bistros could justify moving a restaurant into smaller spaces (1,500-2,000 sq ft). Opposed are those who fear such use of smaller spaces would reduce the likelihood of attracting more retail, because landlords will hold out for the higher rents that come with food service.
Bistro or not, it became clear that ordinances and regulations must distinguish between “occupancy” and “seating.” The former includes employees, according to Gillam. The latter distinguishes between customers and staff.
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