January 2, 2008 |

Proposed legislation would give local control over liquor licenses

Citing mounting concerns from constituents in a portion of his district, state Representative Harry Readshaw, D-Carrick, is preparing to introduce legislation in mid-January that would give local municipalities the ability to establish limits for the ratio of liquor licenses issued for their community.

Mr. Readshaw said citizens in portions of his district are increasingly concerned about the growing concentration of bars and restaurants with alcoholic beverage licenses in their municipalities.

The legislation he plans to introduce in this month would allow a municipality, working with the Liquor Control Board, to determine a maximum saturation ratio for the community. Under the proposal, once the saturation level has been met or exceeded, the local governing body would have to approve the transfer or issuance of a license for economic development purposes.

Factors to be considered would include the type of license use the establishment would have, the current saturation rate, type of zoning at the site and the size of the zoning district.

Mr. Readshaw emphasized that the concerns are not being raised about how the licensed businesses are being conducted, but simply the growing concentration in some spots.

"In locations closely adjoining residential areas, people are upset with overflow parking, noise and other disturbances," Mr. Readshaw said. "To their great credit, the business operators are following the letter of the law, but the sheer number of establishments results in a spill-over off their premises of individuals who bend the rules and increasingly impact the day-to-day quality of life of the people who reside nearby."

Mr. Readshaw emphasized that his legislation would not place local liquor license saturation mandates on municipalities that do not wish to follow the policy.

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