Written by Don Ratzlaff Wednesday, 19 September 2007 05:21
Hillsboro citizens will have a chance to offer their input in the way zoning guidelines should regulate businesses that want to offer liquor by the drink.
The Hillsboro Planning Commission has called for a public hearing at 7 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 27, in city hall as part of the process of formulating a zoning recommendation to the city council for its approval.
By virtue of state and county statutes, a city cannot disallow liquor by the drink within boundaries. However, it can regulate where business can be located through zoning regulations.
“You can control it, but you do have to allow it,” John Riggs, the city’s planning consultant told the city council last month.
At the same meeting, Craig Roble, vice chair of the Planning Commission, said commission members think the majority of local citizens do not want to see liquor by the drink implemented in town. At the same time, commission members “don’t want to stop the growth of the city.”
A hypothetical example mentioned at meetings has been if a popular restaurant like an Applebee’s, which includes a bar as part of its franchise, would be interested in locating in Hillsboro.
While there is no indication of such a development, the push for developing zoning guidelines has been fueled by a local initiative. La Cabana has remodeled its facility at 117 S. Main for the possibility of including a bar.
“Right now, if they wanted to force the issue, I think (La Cabana) could ask for a license to sell liquor by the drink at that location because our zoning code says ‘downtown commercial,’ which is where it is located,” said Dan Baldwin, city attorney.
At its Aug. 7 meeting, the city council directed the commission to hold a public hearing and develop a zoning proposal. Ultimately, the city council must approve any such recommendation before it becomes enacted.
Roble said the commission has discussed allowing liquor by the drink in three designated commercial zones. Those zones would include Hillsboro Heights, an area along the 800 block of D Street, and the downtown business district, which would include La Cabana.
“The state law covers liquor stores, and it says it absolutely can’t be within so many feet from a church or school,” Baldwin said. “After that, (establishing guidelines regarding) restaurants that can serve alcohol is left up to the city.
What the law allows in Marion County
Under the statute approved by Marion County voters in 2004, drinking establishments may sell alcohol by the individual drink in public places within the county, including Hillsboro, when their food sales receipts exceed 30 percent of their gross income.
Because of the connection to food sales, the county statute does not allow for drinking establishments generally thought of as open bars, where hard liquor is served. But it would allow for taverns, which are limited to sales of 3.2 beer.
Also permissible under state law are Class A and Class B clubs.
An example of a Class A club would be the American Legion—a nonprofit organization that restricts individual alcoholic drinks to its members, family members and guests.
A Class B club is operated for profit.