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Archive for Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Disorderly business’ proposal gains interest on commission

February 20, 2008

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City Commissioners balk at notion of entertainment licenses

Lawrence city leaders look for ways to curb downtown violence following a shooting earlier this month outside a local nightclub. Enlarge video

Last Call wasn't the last straw - at least not when it comes to creating a new licensing system for city bars and nightclubs.

City commissioners Tuesday evening largely balked at the idea of requiring drinking establishments to receive special city licenses or permits in an effort to prevent future violence like the incidents that occurred at the former downtown club Last Call.

Instead, commissioners said they wanted staff members to explore creating a new city law - called a "disorderly business" ordinance. The new law would compel businesses that are the site of significant amounts of criminal activity to meet with city staff members to come up with a plan to abate the problems or face criminal charges that could result in a fine of up to $2,500 per day.

The new nuisance ordinance is different than what staff members had recommended. They had recommended a pair of new city-controlled licensing and permit processes that would allow the city to act quickly in cases where an establishment was creating a consistent threat to public safety.

A majority of commissioners, however, were cool to the idea.

"I think this would create something pretty broad that could be used rather punitively," City Commissioner Rob Chestnut said of a proposed entertainment venue licensing system and proposed changes to the city's zoning laws regarding drinking establishments. "It would give us a lot of broad power that would be concerning to me as a business owner."

But all five commissioners expressed at least some degree of interest in the new disorderly business ordinance. The new law would be modeled after the city's disorderly house ordinance, which forces landlords and tenants to meet with the city if their house is frequently involved in noise complaints or other criminal activity. Commissioners said they liked the new idea because it wouldn't require well-run drinking establishments to go through any extra processes.

"When we look at a licensing system, I felt like it would create an additional level of bureaucracy for businesses, and that is something I didn't want to do," said Commissioner Mike Amyx, who proposed the disorderly business idea.

Several bar owners spoke out against the idea of an entertainment venue license or changes that would require drinking establishments to receive a special use permit under the city's zoning laws. Owners said they worried future political leaders could use the licensing system in the wrong ways to punish bars, nightclubs, restaurants and other places that serve alcohol.

Ted Boyle, president of the North Lawrence Improvement Association, said he supported the proposed license system because the city currently lacks a quick way to deal with problem establishments.

Exact details of how new disorderly business ordinance would work need to be developed. But in a proposal put forth by Amyx, he envisioned that the ordinance would kick in after three "triggering events" in a 365-day period. What those triggering events would be needs to be discussed, he said. But the ordinance could be written broadly to include any felony or misdemeanor that occurs on the site or within 50 feet of the site, if it can be proven that the crime was committed by a patron of the establishment.

Amyx, though, said no businesses should be charged with violating the disorderly business law until they have first been given a chance to adopt an "abatement plan" developed in consultation with city staff members. If they refuse to adopt the abatement plan, the establishment could be charged with being a disorderly business and face significant fines.

Several bar owners said shortly after Tuesday's meeting that they hadn't had a chance to review the details of the proposed ordinance. Amyx made the idea public only a few hours prior to Tuesday's meeting.

None of the commissioners Tuesday expressed support for requiring drinking establishments to get a special use permit under the city's zoning code.

The idea of an entertainment venue license was slightly more popular. Mayor Sue Hack said she wanted staff members to be prepared to revive that proposal if the disorderly business ordinance failed to materialize.

Comments

been_there 6 years, 1 month ago

I would love to know what company/person did that.

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been_there 6 years, 1 month ago

I drove by that fire and wondered why there were not firetrucks standing by for such a big fire with the wind blowing like it was. What idiot would do that without a permit in full view of hundreds of people? Did they even bother to check if there were major gas pipelines running through there?

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somebodynew 6 years, 1 month ago

repaste - As far as I know that area is still in the county, I think only the east side is in the city. I have not heard what is going in, but am curious also. I won't have time to do any checking tomorrow, but might the next day.

I do know that the person/company clearing the land just got cited by KDHE for several violations around their methods of clearing (improper burning and other things). I do wish there was more info on this project.

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workinghard 6 years, 1 month ago

I just took time to thoroughly read the article and can now see why yellowhouse=was_freshpowder is upset. The city would have grounds to close them down. Well now if yellowhouse doesn't like it, could it be all bad?

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hawkperchedatriverfront 6 years, 1 month ago

was_reashpowder...dont worry, if they do adopt it, it will be so rarely enforced. and with the abatement process, not much will change. The "disorderly house" ordinance hasn't worked. It is selectively enforced. This is just another ordinance piled in with the previous ones. Look, Dever will be Mayor, he needs something to sign.

I challenge folks who read this site to look up all the old ordinaces and see what Mayor signed which one and how often they are enforced. This town has enough ordinances now that no more are needed. City staff should raise their arms in disgust that it is even being considered. We have a city manager who is a lawyer and he "can't figure out what to do" when these problems arise? Do we have the wrong city manager?

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repaste 6 years, 1 month ago

off subject, 40 highway and k-10, northwest corner, whole corner is being cleared, rumor is a rental locker biz. Last year they got a variance to use the drive there for "storage of construction vehicles." Land is big chunk-80 + acres, looks like most work is in far north corner. That should be city controled development, is it? The entrance to 40 highway is in bad spot, anyone any info?

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hawkperchedatriverfront 6 years, 1 month ago

The Drop In Center would be the first toabsolutely qualify. Fights daily, police cars 24/7, the operation is a public nuisiance. There is no leadership at that place either. And the city should bring suit against theowner just as they claim against Hetzel, owner of the bldg where Last Call last was.

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workinghard 6 years, 1 month ago

This website is possessed, it moved the posts to the right forums, oh well they got where they were suppose to in the end.

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workinghard 6 years, 1 month ago

Not sure how this got here, not where it was suppose to go

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workinghard 6 years, 1 month ago

I'll go with that. Third Planet is just one of the more ethical shops of it's sort and does follow the law. I'm an old Strawberry Fields customer and it brings back fond memories. They used to sell something called and Indian Bedi(?) cigarette that was a leaf of some sort, rolled, and tied with a red string. Tasted terrible, legal, but it did smell like pot and made people think you were doing something illegal. Which I found out the hard way, boy did I get in a lot of trouble till it was confirmed that it was not illegal and could be bought downtown.

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n8ivjhawk 6 years, 1 month ago

I once made a "water pipe" out of a bear-shaped honey container. Are the same containers, located in thousands of homes, "drug paraphernalia"?

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Marion Lynn 6 years, 1 month ago

workinghard wrote:

"Marion seems to have a personal vendetta against Third Planet. "

Marion writes:

No, no and no!

I was merely using TP as an example because last I knew, TP sold wataer pipes which are de facto drug paraphernalia!

Now if TP has stopped selling such pipes, I stand corrected!

I don't agree with the law but the law does say that if a thing can be used for drugs, it is drug paraphernalia!

Jeez; give it a break; I didn't write the stupid law nor am I writing this one and stand in firm oppostion to both of them!

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spywell 6 years, 1 month ago

Hawk: I think your on to something here!

Bars are not the only trouble spots.

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workinghard 6 years, 1 month ago

Marion seems to have a personal vendetta against Third Planet. They have complied with the law and do not sell any drug paraphernalia. To use the gun arguement "guns don't kill people, people do" the same can be said for drug paraphernalia. You notice he said nothing about the gas station on 23rd who catered to crack heads unlike Third Planet. Maybe it's not the drug paraphernalia that bothers him, but the anti-Bush paraphernalia, or maybe they asked him to leave the store at sometime. I bet if Steffe owned it, he would be defending it instead. I have never done drugs and am just as anti-drug as a conservative, but Third Planet has a lot going for it, I love their stuff. Marion needs to let us know exactly what drug paraphernalia is in the store. Feel free to post a page long rebuttal full of your facts and sources and try to draw me into one of the vicious forum battles you love to start, but I'll just ignore you.

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Bowhunter99 6 years, 1 month ago

I'm sure the Salvation Army building will be fined daily...

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Flap Doodle 6 years, 1 month ago

Could the Pretentious Cow be declared disorderly because of the quarrelsome old nerf-herder that ran the place? Oops, too late. Never mind....

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Marion Lynn 6 years, 1 month ago

Will such places as Third Planet be declared disorderly under this proposed law?

The store quite clearly sells products which fit the definition of "drug paraphernalia".

Could bookstores be declared disorderly for selling erotic magazines?

Could a drive-in restaurant be declared disorderly because of the noise from the hot rods, street rods and classic cars on Cruise Night?

Could a Downtown restaurant with sidewalk seating be declared to be disorderly because a group of teetotalers objects to consumption of alcohol in that space?

The answer to all of the above is a resounding "Yes!"

We have a plethora of laws on the books now and do not need more.

This is only an attempt on the part of the City to enact a law which says, "We don't llike you! Youre done!" and if enacted, it will eventually be misused.

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Ragingbear 6 years, 1 month ago

I'm not sure if such a law is even legal.

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hawkperchedatriverfront 6 years, 1 month ago

And how does Amyx explain the lack of enforcement of the "disorderly house" nuisance ordinance. It is hit and miss depending on who the landlord is.

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hawkperchedatriverfront 6 years, 1 month ago

Well, the first business to use the ordinance against is The Drop In Center. If that doesn't qualify, then no place in town does. Police cars 24/7, ambulance, fights, certainly it is within 50 feet and those at the center have and occur misdeanors. And bring a civil suit against the owner. If Hetzel can be sued for his building, then the owner of the Drop In Center can be also. Teats up or teats down?

Which way will Lawrence go?

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Richard Heckler 6 years, 1 month ago

Very interesting. After 2 years all talk in the end.

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