Debate Over Liquor Licenses In Crossroads, West Bottoms Reaches A Compromise
A debate has been raging in the Crossroads and West Bottoms over a liquor licensing ordinance passed by the Kansas City council in April.
On Thursday, the council unanimously approved a compromise they hope will keep businesses and residents happy.
The ordinance limited the influence some property owners had over approval of liquor licenses. It had the support of many small businesses, who said it gave them more of a voice in the process.
Opponents feared the rule would lead to an explosion of liquor establishments in the Crossroads.
After the April vote, petitioners gathered nearly 4,000 signatures to repeal the ordinance — enough to force a city-wide election on the issue.
Councilwoman Jolie Justus, who sponsored the new ordinance says she spent weeks negotiating with stakeholders before coming up with a compromise.
The new regulation, which applies only to the Crossroads and West Bottoms, increases the influence large property owners by increasing the cap of consents for liquor licenses from ten percent in the original ordinance, to 35 percent.
Condo owners would also have a greater impact.
There would also be a higher bar for approval on any new applicants who wants to open under a 3 a.m. license.
Before the final vote, councilman Scott Taylor expressed his support for the changes, though he acknowledged not all parties were satisfied, particularly small businesses.
“Compromise is a good thing many times with city ordinances it means that people have come together and not everybody is happy with the final solution, but it’s a better solution,” Taylor said.
Nevertheless, he applauded the work of Councilwoman Justus and the petitioners who brought the referendum.
"I want to thanks the 3,959 people that turned in signatures that didn't like the (original) ordinance. That's democracy in action... This is a better product, I think its better for the city," he said.
Lisa Rodriguez is a reporter for KCUR 89.3 Connect with her on Twitter @larodrig.