Members of the city’s alcohol licensing panel want to continue discussion of a proposed ordinance eliminating the city’s class A liquor license quota, despite city council plans to vote on the matter this month.
The Alcohol License Advisory Committee on Monday unanimously recommended that the ordinance remain as is for now, but members made it clear they prefer more discussion between the committee and council members before the council votes.
The council is slated to hold a public hearing and take action on the proposed ordinance Dec. 14, said Dave Godek, city clerk-treasurer.
Council President Sue Conley proposed the ordinance after months of back and forth between the council and committee over whether to issue liquor licenses in excess of the quota.
Class A licenses allow the sale of alcohol for off-site consumption. The quota allows one class A liquor license per 3,500 people, which equates to 19 licenses.
City ordinance allows the council to approve additional licenses if they promote economic development in some way, such as expansion of a business or redevelopment of a blighted property.
But recent license applications have caused officials to question the intent of the ordinance. The council has bypassed recent committee recommendations to deny licenses, causing some members to call for a re-examination of the laws.
State law does not mandate a quota on class A licenses as it does for class B licenses, which are held by businesses such as bars and restaurants.
A study of 14 peer cities shows only three other municipalities—Racine, Sheboygan and Waukesha—have some kind of class A quota.
City staff recommends the quota be repealed because it is not state-mandated and less regulation promotes economic development, Godek said.
Seven residents, several of whom are involved in the advocacy group Janesville Mobilizing 4 Change, submitted public comments supporting the quota. They cited concerns about addiction and underage access to alcohol if the city offers more licenses.
Paul Williams, a committee and council member, said he wants to continue the discussion because the full committee was not represented Tuesday. Member Kevin Riley was absent, and the committee is short two members, although there are plans for new members to be appointed at an upcoming council meeting.
Williams and committee member Mark Bumpus proposed ideas that could be discussed further if the quota is repealed.
Both are interested in a policy that would limit the number of class A licenses in a geographic area yet to be determined. One example cited would require a mile between licensed establishments.
The city’s GIS mapping team is working to create maps showing where current licensees are located.
Another suggestion involves limiting the sale of single-serving packages of alcohol or prohibiting tasting events.