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Falls broadens liquor license ordinance

Sept. 4, 2013

Liquor licenses are not limited to bars in Menomonee Falls, but are now available to local establishments offering some sort of recreation, village officials decided Tuesday.

The Village Board on Sept. 3 approved an ordinance amending parts of the municipal code that dictate alcohol licensing regulations to give any "recreational premise" the opportunity to apply for a Class B liquor license. The discussion was presented after Just Kiln' Time, a business in downtown Falls, approached the village about hosting events where they offer some sort of alcoholic beverage to patrons.

The previous code allowed liquor licenses to be issued to bowling alleys or recreational premises, but did not actually define what that would be. On Tuesday, village officials adopted an ordinance that defines recreational premises as a "premises in which an organized and regularly conducted activity takes place." It also says those premises can obtain a Class B liquor license.

"We are taking a fairly common definition of recreational premise and putting it into this ordinance which would allow, in this case, the pottery store — where you can actually go in and paint your own pottery — they could qualify for a Class B license and liquor sales could be a part of the established businesses plan,"Village Manager Mark Fitzgerald said.

Similar ordinances have been adopted in surrounding municipalities that allow art studios to host events where alcoholic beverages are allowed, Village Trustee Steve Raymonds said.

"We feel that it's turning away business if we don't do this because they would go to neighboring municipalities to do this," Raymonds said.

All Class B regulations outlined in the previous municipal code apply if places such as Just Kiln' Time are approved for a liquor license.

"The circumstance here is that they still have to qualify for the license, pay for the license, have a licensed bartender on site during times of liquor sales and meet all other requirements of the statute, Fitzgerald said. "There is no free pass here."

The main discussion at the General Government Committee level, which took place right before the Village Board met on Tuesday, focused on underage patrons since some events could see a mix of both adults and young customers.

There were a few exemptions added into the statute that allow underage persons on a Class B premise. Underage persons not accompanied by an adult are allowed on site if the business specifies the days where alcohol will not be consumed, sold or given away. The licensee has to notify the police department at least 14 days in advance of when underage persons are allowed on site and the alcohol will be locked.

A second exemption would be if the establishment controls the room where underage persons are allowed with no liquor served in that particular area.

"Either one of those could be met and they are tucked into our local ordinance here so this establishment could meet those requirements because it is likely they will cater to adults and minors as well," Fitzgerald said. "In other communities, these establishments are tending to get liquor licenses. We wanted to be proactive and use the recreational premise definition and go in that direction."

The same exemptions for previously issued Class B licenses still apply, such as allowing underage employees the ability to work at the business.

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