Liquor issue splits Janesville City Council

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Tuesday, January 24, 2012
— Three of the six members of the Janesville City Council apparently oppose an ordinance that would allow liquor stores in the city to sell alcoholic beverages two hours earlier in the day.

A new state law allows stores to sell alcoholic beverages starting at 6 a.m. The city's ordinance forbids beer sales before 8 a.m.

The city's Alcohol License Advisory Committee has recommended the city change its ordinance to parallel the state law.

State law previously had allowed stores to sell alcohol from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m.

The city ordinance restricts sales of beer and other malt beverages but does not address other alcoholic beverages.

The council voted 3-2 on Monday to change a proposed ordinance so all alcoholic beverages could be sold only between 8 a.m. and 9 p.m.

The council's vote does little except change the ordinance proposal that is up for debate at a public hearing Feb. 13. The council could amend the proposal after the hearing, before it makes its final decision.

Voting to restrict all alcohol sales to the hours of 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. were Deb Dongarra-Adams, Sam Liebert and Yuri Rashkin. Opposed were Tom McDonald and Kathy Voskuil. Russ Steeber was absent. The council has only six members since the recent resignation of George Brunner.

"I have serious doubts this law does anything to help Janesville," Rashkin said of the new state statute. "Moving alcohol sales from 8 a.m. to 6 a.m. does little to help anyone."

State law allows municipalities to impose more restrictive hours than the state has.

The existing city ordinance states that restricting the hours of alcohol sales is "for the betterment of the community," that it contributes to "health, welfare, peace, safety and tranquility" and will reduce alcohol consumption by underaged residents.

"Wisconsin has this cult of excessive binge drinking," Liebert said at Monday's meeting.

Youths who drink are more likely to drink and drive, to be arrested and to get lower grades in school, he added.

Liebert also noted a competitive consideration, as the neighboring cities of Edgerton and Milton already have decided to allow 6 a.m. liquor sales.

Rashkin said that Janesville Police Chief David Moore had no recommendation about what hours are best but did recommend the council set a standard.

Dongarra-Adams, McDonald and Voskuil did not comment on the issue during the meeting.

Not addressed at the meeting was the possible desire of hunters, anglers, tourists or party planners who might want to buy alcohol early, perhaps before heading out on a trip.

The manager of the liquor store at Logli, 1501 Creston Park Drive, asked the city in December to change the ordinance to parallel the new state law.

Other business

The Janesville City Council on Monday:

-- Unanimously approved a change in the zoning ordinance so trucks can make or take deliveries at the former Gilman/Thyssen Krupp plant, 305 W. Delavan Drive, from the Jerome Avenue side of the building. ANGI Energy Systems of Milton is moving to the building and promises an increase in employment. The council voted to restrict truck traffic on Jerome to 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., overriding the plan commission, which had recommended 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. ANGI asked for more flexibility. Houses line one side of the street, and residents registered concerns about safety for their vehicles and children and the potential for trucks to damage the avenue. Trucks will not be allowed to park or idle on Jerome.

-- Approved a run/walk fundraiser by Habitat for Humanity of Rock Jefferson Counties on Saturday, May 19, using the city bike trail and streets, starting at Home Depot, 3200 Deerfield Drive.

-- Approved a settlement for $12,000 with Randy DeGarmo, who was injured in an auto accident with a city snowplow on Dec. 13, 2009.

Last updated: 7:15 pm Thursday, December 13, 2012

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