CITY COUNCIL DISCUSSES LIQUOR LICENSES IN YBOR-Andrew Stelzer

09/16/04

This morning the Tampa city council discussed how the city handled this summers hurricanes, and how to handle the explosion of bars and nightclubs in Ybor city. WMNF’s Andrew Stelzer was there and filed this report.

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In reviewing preparation for and reaction to the three hurricanes this summer; flooding was the biggest problem in Tampa, and several citizens came to the meeting upset that Lake Kipling in south Tampa—which is called a drainage pond by the city, has been overflowing throughout the summer, especially after hurricane Frances. The city plans to dredge Lake Kipling to make it deeper—there may be some objection by citizens who say it will kill the fish who live in the lake.

The council also discussed the issue of bars in Ybor city. There are 103 “wetzone� permits issued for businesses to sell alcohol in Ybor city, although not all of these are being used, some blocks have half a dozen establishments selling beer, wine or liquor. Loud noise, and recent complaints about children mingling with drunk adults have some people like councilman Shawn Harrison to say that things need to change in Ybor.

ACT-Harrison “Ybor certainly needed help, and the bars steeped in brought back the life but it’s been too much of a good thing. That has hampered other development, we need to bring it back into balance “

Harrison made a proposal to ask the city lawyer to investigate if the city could institute a moratorium on wet zoning licenses, but no other council member would second the motion. Council members Saul-Sena, Dingfelder and Miller were out today, so the only remaining members were Mary Alvarez, Kevin White, and Rose Ferlita—Ferlita said the moratorium was going too far.

ACT-Ferlita “I’m not in favor of that because we shouldn’t make a blanket statement

While the whole council agreed that Ybor has become too much of a nightlife dependent district, they said they preferred to wait until a marketing team hired by the city has completed their assessment in January before making any major changes.

ACT —the marketing plan is coming through, but we should not look at it as a moratorium.�….we’ve worked on Ybor city for quite awhile..and it seems like we have too many bars, but we have to include retail restaurants etc.

Harrison was not pleased at the lack of support

ACT-Harrison “I’m disappointed that we didn’t get that..as a quiver in the arrow..�

Harrison later took out his frustrations on the owner of Coonfares sports café oat 502 north Tampa street, who was applying for a liquor license—Harrison, asked the owner of the restaurant why he was applying for a license that allowed him to sell open battles of beer and wine, as well as packaged liquor to go. When the owner replied that he did so because that’s what the city’s licensing employee advised him to do, Harrison suggested that he downgrade to a consumption on premises only license only, and which will have to be approved next week. Coonfares was one of 2 new liquor license granted in the downtown area-the other was for the jerk hut—this prompting commissioner Ferlita to say she was pleased that downtown businesses were planning to evolve as the city tries to revitalize downtown. WMNF asked councilman Harrison how he thought the city could learn from Ybor as they develop downtown

ACT-Harrison ‘Downtown I see more as a residential area, some nightlife, but more smaller restaurants, shops, cafes, not entertainment, Ybor is more residential

This evening, the council is discussing next years city budget, well have a full report on that tomorrow at 6pm on the WMNF evening news.

For WMNF news, I’m Andrew Stelzer

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