Alderman table alcohol permit

By Brian Bloom

Regional Manager

City ordinance may restrict dancing where liquor is sold

Bartlett’s Board of Aldermen, succumbing to concerns from neighboring residents and seeking legal opinion on ramifications of language in the liquor and beer ordinance, tabled a request by Denise Suthoff to allow the sale of beer and wine at the Cedar Hall Bed & Breakfast and wedding hall Monday.

Acting as the city’s Beer Board, the aldermen listened to a half dozen neighbors who voiced concern over the sale of alcohol in a primarily residential neighborhood. Among them was Dan Melancon of Chatham Pond who argued the cities’ liquor and beer ordinance does not allow alcohol sales by statute.

Melancon pointed to Bartlett Municipal Code Article Eight that says, in his interpretation, the wedding hall would be in violation because minors (under 21 years of age) may be in attendance, the hall may host loud dances and that dancing itself, according to paragraph 10, is a violation of the ordinance.

Bartlett City Attorney Edward McKenney opined that Melancon could only assume the wedding hall would be in violation and that aldermen cannot be “preemptive” in their decision making.

“As far as the dancing – I’d have to give that one some thought,” McKenney told the Beer Board. “But you know there are establishments in Bartlett that allow dancing and sell beer.”

Ms. Suthoff, is explaining the desire for the Beer Board’s approval, pointed out that another one of her wedding hall properties in Piperton, Heartwood Hall, does not sell alcohol but the wedding party can provide their own.

“As any business owner, we are looking for ways to recoup our costs by selling beer, wine and Champaign,” Suthoff said. “We’ve never had a problem in Piperton. We hire retired police officers and some active duty officers for all of our functions,” she continued.

Suthoff said she is planning on seeking similar permission to sell alcohol at her Piperton facility and she’s received favorable response there.

One of the sticking points with area residents is traffic going through the neighborhood. Suthoff told the board she’s hoping to have easements purchased to build a road with direct access from Hwy 70 to her property soon.

Cedar Hall, one of Bartlett’s most historic residents, was purchased from former Bartlett alderman Jay Rainey. The bed and breakfast is expected to open in April with four suites available in the 7,500 square foot home.

The wedding hall will be built directly behind the historic home despite some neighbor’s concerns. Those who argued against the city providing a beer license said the neighborhood’s roads are narrow with no sidewalks and believed the addition of alcohol could be a bad influence on the neighborhood.

Janice Albrecht, a 40-year resident of the area noted the proximity of Singleton Community Center and children playing in the area. Nineteen year-old Jessica Powell was more succinct.

“I beg you, for the sake of any children, don’t expose them to liquor,” she asked the board.

In tabling the issue, the board asked the city attorney to get clarification on the language in the ordinance.

Even if the city refuses the beer permit, the owners of Cedar Hall can still appeal to the state for wine and Champaign sales.

“If I had my way I’d not allow beer anywhere in Bartlett,” Vice Mayor Jack Young told those opposing the permit. “But we have to follow state law.”

Two other beer permits were approved with little opposition by the Beer Board.

Jennifer Mun Hae was granted an on-premise permit for Dagon Sushi & Asian Restaurant at 7424 Highway 64.

William Clem was granted an on-premise permit for Baby Jack’s Barbecue at 7610 Highway 70 despite one neighbor concerned about residential impact.

In other action the Board of Aldermen

-         Approved permits for a St. Valentine’s Day run starting at Bartlett Baptist Church on Feb. 9.

-         Approved the “Smile Train 5K” March 3

-         Approved a contract for Bartlett’s Performing Arts Center to get country artist Clint Black to perform.

-         Approved Park and Recreation baseball uniforms at a cost of $5,761.

-         Approved the purchase of a 2013 Ford Explorer for the fire department for $26,298.

-         Approved a $13,000 repair for a garbage truck

-         Approved a variety of pieces of equipment for public works to service the recently annexed neighborhoods. Those bids ranged from $14,738 for a road salt spreader to $137,567 for a rear loading garbage truck.

-         Approved the site development contract for a new Dollar General store on Hwy 70 in Bartlett.

The aldermen also reappointed Jack Young as Vice Mayor without conversation or consent.