Stricter rules for new bar owners
New London ordinance applies to business transfers
By Scott Bellile
New London City Council approved amending an ordinance to toughen the rules for a person buying a bar where the previous liquor license holder had violations.
If both parties are relatives or if they continue to work together, then the bar’s buyer will now inherit the seller’s past violations after a business transfer.
If further violations occur at the newly owned bar, then any violations before the sale can be factored into the city council’s decision to suspend, revoke or not renew the liquor license.
City council adopted ordinance 12.01(9) on July 12. Quoting it verbatim, these are the scenarios where a new liquor license holder will inherit the previous holder’s violations:
• “The new license applicant is related to the former licensee by blood, adoption or marriage.”
• “The new license applicant held a business interest in the previous licensed business, real estate or equipment.”
• “The former licensee retains an interest in the business or equipment used by the business.”
• “The new license applicant’s acquisition of the business did not involve an arm’s length transaction consisting of an open market sale in which the owner is willing but not obligated to sell and the buyer is willing, not obligated to buy.”
The finance and personnel committee recommended the amendment to city council July 6 after opting not to implement a demerit point system. The amended ordinance, unlike a point system, continues to leave decisions regarding revocation or nonrenewal to the city council’s discretion.
“We typically do not have a lot of problems with our bars,” New London Police Chief Jeff Schlueter told the committee July 6. “Every once in a while, we’ll have a new owner come on in and we’ll have some issues. Typically we can take care of it ourselves if the police department wants some citations.”
The amended ordinance was adopted three months after city council denied a license renewal for Michael Fahser, owner of the now defunct bar Sociables who was charged with sexual assault and false imprisonment in Waupaca and Winnebago counties.
Schlueter told the Press Star Thursday, July 14, that Jeff Reeck, who since bought Sociables and opened a bar called The Barn this summer, won’t inherit Fahser’s violations because the two men are no longer in-laws.
Fahser’s situation was the first time Schlueter had to bring a nonrenewal before city council in his seven years as police chief, he told the finance and personnel committee.
Other city council approvals
• The second reading of an amended ordinance that will increase sewer user charge rates. The base monthly fixed charge will be $2.30 for all residents (up from 80 cents), the metered rate will be $7.19 per $1,000 gallons (up from $5.84) and the unmetered rate will be $26.15 per month (up from $21.24). The rates go into effect this fall and will pay for increased operating costs at the wastewater treatment plant since Saputo closed its New London plant in 2014. (Approved 9-1 with Second District Alderwoman Mary Tate against.)
• Approval for the city to keep ownership of the current city garage, demolish it and eventually develop a plan for the site. (Approved 7-3 with Tate, First District Alderman Robert Besaw and Second District Alderman Tom O’Connell against.)
• A $214,227 bid by MMC of Appleton to perform improvements on West Wolf River Avenue from Wyman to Pearl streets in August or September. The work includes roadway reconstruction, erosion control and restoration and replacing storm inlets and castings. (Approved 10-0.)
• A $96,976 bid by Northeast Asphalt of Greenville to perform asphalt pavement rehabilitation on portions of Wisconsin Street, Wyman Street, Minerva Street and Ridgeway Drive, to coincide with the West Wolf River Avenue roadwork. (Approved 10-0.)
• A $12,118 bid by Mid-State Asphalt of New London to perform asphalt pavement patching on Hancock Street, East North Water Street and the south end of Algoma Street. (Approved 10-0.)
• A change order of $391,402.88 to the new city garage project on West Wolf River Avenue. The payment includes $319,093.87 to remove and replace bad soils at the site, $56,221 to add to the parking lot across the street at Riverside Park and $7,601 to add 5,000-square foot of cold storage space to the garage. (Approved 9-1 with O’Connell against.)
• An agreement for professional services with McMahon of Neenah, at most $20,000, to develop a plan to reduce infiltration and inflow for the wastewater treatment plant. (Approved 10-0.)