Alcohol Spacing Requirements
This morning, the Council voted on two changes to the alcohol spacing requirement ordinances. Both passed, one with my support and one without.
The amendment I supported removed the restriction on microbreweries being within three hundred feet of churches, mosques, and other religious places of assembly. This change is fairly contained, because there are a number of other regulations on microbreweries. It also opens up new opportunities for local food-related businesses, in keeping with the overarching goals of Homegrown Minneapolis. I am not concerned about spillover effects from these establishments.
The amendment I opposed removed the restrictions placed on restaurants that serve alcohol within three hundred feet of churches and religious places of assembly. Currently, restaurants that close to churches can make no more than 30% of their revenue from alcohol sales, may not have a bar area, and may not advertise alcohol on the outside of their building. (These same restrictions remain in place for restaurants near schools.)
I heard from several neighborhood residents, including activists involved in the West Bank and Prospect Park neighborhood groups. There are unique concerns about alcohol on the West Bank, where there are many mosques and ongoing tensions between alcohol-serving establishments and the predominantly muslim population, and near the University campus, where underage drinking is a continuing concern. I've also heard positive comments, mostly from Seward and Longfellow residents, but the majority of constituents who have contacted me about this have been opposed to it.
I must also note that the map of current places of religious assembly provided by staff in advance of this vote was incomplete at best. Among the religious places of assembly that were not listed on the map: Prospect Park United Methodist Church, Dar Al'Hijrah Mosque and Darul Quba Mosque. At least two of the churches on the map were shown in the wrong location - across the street in one case, a block away in another. The assurance I received from Council Member Schiff's office that there are no current alcohol-serving establishments operating under the 70/30 because of their proximity to a church is therefore somewhat suspect - how do we know if this is really the case if we don't have a reliable handle on where the churches actually are?