City officials are exploring licensing changes that would give them the power to close private clubs and drinking establishments that create a public nuisance.
Some options under consideration would be more restrictive than current state laws controlling licensing.
Recent complaints about the city's lack of enforcement power over private clubs and drinking establishments prompted the city to consider the issue.
In a memo received Monday by city commissioners from David Corliss, city management analyst, eight major policy issues concerning such licenses are outlined. They range from increasing the license fee to adding nuisance controls.
UNDER A possible wording for nuisance controls, the city could revoke the license of a bar that "creates, fosters, causes, attracts or otherwise allows conditions or conduct to exist within 1,000 feet of the licensed premises which . . . constitute a danger or harm to public safety, health and welfare, regardless of whether such conditions are intentionally created" by the operator.
It also would list conduct that could cause such a danger, including disorderly conduct, assault, criminal trespass, vandalism, theft, possession or dealing in illegal or controlled substances, illegal possession or consumption of alcoholic beverages, sex offenses and others.
In the memo, Corliss warns that the ordinance must clearly describe what it prohibits to avoid charges that it is too vague. He said the proposed language is similar to that used in a Kansas City, Kan., ordinance.
ACCORDING TO the memo, cities can use home rule powers to pass ordinances that are more restrictive than state liquor laws if they do not conflict with state law.
Under current city ordinances, Lawrence will issue a private club license to any applicant who has state approval for such a license and whose place of business has no conflicts with zoning or other city ordinances.
The city commission does not approve licenses for private clubs or drinking establishments. The city clerk issues the license if the applicant meets the requirements.
Corliss said licensing ordinances in Wichita and Overland Park include requirements on exterior lighting, prohibition on permitting known felons on the premises, and dealing with disorderly conduct.
HE WROTE, "It should be possible to require local licensees to meet other requirements."
Other major policy issues outlined in the memo are increasing all licensing fees to $250, the maximum allowed under state law; revoking licenses for failure to comply with zoning, building and fire codes, and lighting and fencing requirements; making city licensing contingent upon meeting qualifications required by the state; revoking licenses for removal of alcoholic beverages from licensed establishments; revoking licenses for delinquent local property taxes, state liquor taxes or other taxes.
City Manager Mike Wildgen said this morning that no timetable has been set for studying the changes. City commissioners could decide to discuss the memo at a study session, a regular commission meeting or could ask city staff to draft an ordinance based on the memo.