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Port Washington


Revised liquor license law OK’d PDF Print E-mail
Community
Written by KRISTYN HALBIG ZIEHM   
Wednesday, 06 March 2013 18:43

Port council approves ordinance changes that tighten rules for applicants

    With little discussion Tuesday, the Port Washington Common Council approved revisions to its liquor license law.

    Although the measure was initially met with resistance from current license holders, officials tweaked the law to ease some of their concerns while still strengthening the ordinance.

    City Administrator Mark Grams said Tuesday that he had not heard any comments from license holders since amending the proposed ordinance.

    Ald. Dan Becker lauded the city staff for working with current license holders to address their issues with the new ordinance, saying that was an important step.

    Most of the changes in the ordinance only affect applicants for new liquor licenses who must submit significantly more information to the city before their application can be approved.

    For example, new liquor license applicants must provide a detailed business plan to the city for approval and, in subsequent years, to obtain city approval for any substantive changes to that plan.

    This does not apply to existing license holders and will also not apply to family members or partners who take over a business, as long as they have been working at the business for at least one year.

    New license holders are also be required to meet with the police chief to formulate a security plan that could require the installation of security cameras inside the building.

    The revisions also reduce the number of causes for which a license can be revoked, suspended or not renewed from 10 to six. These are basically the same grounds outlined in state law.

    The impetus for the changes was the controversy over the denial of a liquor license for the former Foxy’s tavern late last year. Several aldermen said at the time they wanted to see the city’s licensing regulations tightened.

 
Tighter security awaits PW-S school visitors PDF Print E-mail
Community
Written by BILL SCHANEN IV   
Wednesday, 27 February 2013 19:33

Electronic locking controls, video cameras being installed this week at Lincoln, Dunwiddie, Saukville elementary schools

    The days of being able to walk right into Port Washington-Saukville schools are gone.

    Electronic locking controls, or so-called buzzer systems, and video cameras are being installed this week at the main entrances to Lincoln and Dunwiddie elementary schools in Port Washington, as well as Saukville Elementary School, at a total cost of $11,100, Jim Froemming, director of business services, said.

    Previously, the main entrances to schools remained unlocked during the school day and visitors were instructed to go to the office to sign in.

    Now, parents and other visitors have to ring a buzzer outside the main entrance and use an intercom system to request access to elementary schools. Video cameras that relay live images of the entrance to three monitors in each school office will allow staff members to see who is waiting to enter schools.

    “It will take a little getting used to,” Froemming told the Port Washington-Saukville School Board Building and Grounds Committee Monday, adding that the district’s goal is to retain “that warm, welcoming atmosphere in schools” while making them more secure.

    Installing buzzer systems at elementary schools became a priority after the Sandy Hook School shootings in Newtown, Conn., in December, but it is just the beginning of changes intended to tighten security at the district’s five schools and administrative office building.

    The committee on Monday authorized the hiring of an architect to design new entrances for elementary schools.

    The committee also recommended that the district use money from its fund equity account to pay for the security measures.

    School officials want to reconstruct elementary school entrances to create double-door systems that will allow visitors to wait in a secure vestibule before being let into schools.

    “We’re really not talking about structural changes at Dunwiddie and Saukville, but Lincoln will end up being more extensive,” Froemming said.

    At Dunwiddie and Saukville elementary schools, entrances are adjacent to the main offices, which allows secretaries to monitor who is entering the building.

    But at Lincoln Elementary School, the entrance is not near the office and gives visitors immediate access to a main hallway.

    “Lincoln doesn’t have a very welcoming entrance,” said School Board member Brenda Fritsch. “You just kind of walk into the building, and there you are. You can be in the building and no one knows you’re there.

    “As a parent, I’m thrilled by the changes.”    

    Redesigning the entrance to Lincoln Elementary School will likely mean constructing an addition onto the front of the building, school officials said.

    “Anytime you do something on the outside of a building it’s going to be expensive,” board member and committee chairman Brian McCutcheon said.

    Froemming said, “It’s cheaper to add onto the building than it is to demolish what you have inside and rebuild it.”

    Work on school entrances will likely be done over the summer, as will other security improvements.

    The district is planning to install electronic locks that are opened with programmable fobs on several outside doors at each elementary school. This will help ensure doors remain locked during the school day while giving select staff members the ability to open them if needed, for instance when children are coming in from recess or returning from a field trip.

    “The fobs are really nice because they’re software based and you can see who has accessed the doors and when,” Director of Special Services Duane Woelfel said, adding that the fobs can be reprogrammed remotely if the district wants to deny access to someone who previously had it.

    Security at Thomas Jefferson Middle School and the high school is less of a priority because those school underwent improvements several years ago. Both schools have electronic key fob systems, as well as entrances that restrict access beyond the main offices, although officials said additional improvements may be made.



 
City revises proposed liquor license law PDF Print E-mail
Community
Written by KRISTYN HALBIG ZIEHM   
Wednesday, 20 February 2013 19:17

Port aldermen begin reviewing updated regulations after changes made to alleviate tavern owners’ concerns

    Port Washington aldermen on Wednesday were slated to review a revised version of a controversial liquor license law amendment.

    The proposed ordinance change has been tweaked by officials after they met with tavern and restaurant owners and operators to ease some of their concerns about the new law.

    City Administrator Mark Grams, who met with the owners and operators last week, said he believes the new version of the ordinance allays the fears of the owners.

    “I haven’t heard from anybody since then,” he said. “Overall, I think the ordinance we’ve got is a good one. It’s not super stringent.

    “What we’ve done is made it a little friendlier for them.”

    The impetus for the changes is the controversy over the denial of a liquor license for the former Foxy’s tavern late last year, Grams said, noting that several aldermen said at the time they wanted to see the city’s licensing regulations tightened.

    Most of the proposed changes only affect applicants for new liquor licenses who, if the new ordinance is approved, must submit significantly more information to the city before their application can be approved.

    For example, new liquor license applicants will be required to provide a detailed business plan to the city for approval and, in subsequent years, to obtain city approval for any substantive changes to that plan.

    This does not apply to existing license holders and, under the revised ordinance, will also not apply to family members or partners who take over a business, as long as they have been working at the business for at least one year, Grams said.

    New license holders would also be required to meet with the police chief to formulate a security plan that could require the installation of security cameras inside the building but would no longer require them outside, Grams said.

    The security plan could require a bouncer be hired by taverns on Fish Day weekend, Grams said.

    Most taverns already hire bouncers that weekend, he said.

    The revisions also reduce the number of causes for which a license can be revoked, suspended or not renewed from 10 to six, Grams said. These are basically the same grounds listed under state law, he said.

    “They’re no-brainers,” Grams said, and include making a false statement on a license application, interfering with police, violating health and building codes, and violating restrictions imposed under the plan of operation, security plan and any license stipulations with the city.

    Because of the number of changes made to the proposed law, the Common Council was not to vote on the ordinance Wednesday but instead to review it. Aldermen will vote on the measure Tuesday, March 5.



 
Town says it doesn’t have to clear Hwy. 33 walkways PDF Print E-mail
Community
Written by KRISTYN HALBIG ZIEHM   
Wednesday, 13 February 2013 19:14

Officials contend legal opinion reaffirms claim that City of Port, Village of Saukville are responsible for snow removal

    Town of Port Washington officials said last week that they are not responsible to clear the sidewalk and bike path along Highway 33 — a stance they have held for months.

    An opinion from Town Attorney Steve Cain, based on information from the Department of Transportation, makes it final, officials said.

    “The town isn’t responsible for it,” Chairman Jim Melichar said.

    The City of Port Washington is responsible for maintaining the walkways east of Jackson Road, he said, while the Village of Saukville is responsible for the walkways west of Jackson Road.

    “The city and the village signed off on it at the beginning of the project,” Melichar said, adding the agreement was signed years ago. “It was a benefit to them.”

    The communities asked that the walkways be installed as part of the highway 33 project, and also agreed to maintain them as part of the agreement with the DOT, he said.

    The DOT cited an agreement signed by both communities that says each shall maintain “sidewalks and landscaping features along the project.”

    The county is responsible for plowing the road, but not clearing the sidewalks, DOT Maintenance Supr. Adrian Lopez told Cain in a letter that also outlined the city and village responsibilities.

    The area in question is in the Town of Port Washington, where the bike path runs along the north side of the highway and the sidewalk on the south side.

    Prior to the Highway 33 reconstruction, pedestrians had to walk on the gravel shoulder of the road.

    Town officials have made it clear that they will not require residents to shovel the walkways.

    The town does not have an ordinance requiring property owners to clear walkways, in large part because there are few sidewalks in the township, they noted.

    But the city and village do have such ordinances.

    The issue of clearing the walkways took on greater importance because town residents living along the highway no longer receive mail in boxes outside their homes. Instead, a large neighborhood mailbox has been installed near the driveway at Stevlin’s Hardware.

    City of Port Washington Administrator Mark Grams said the city is clearing the walkways on its portion of the road.

    Saukville Village Administrator Dawn Wagner said, “The village staff is reviewing the additional information received and will be discussing it with the village attorney and Village Board.”





 
Tougher liquor law plan sparks concerns PDF Print E-mail
Community
Written by KRISTYN HALBIG ZIEHM   
Wednesday, 06 February 2013 19:06

Proposed changes in license requirements too nebulous, downtown business owners tell Port aldermen

    Port Washington barkeepers on Tuesday told the Common Council they are concerned about proposed changes in the laws governing the issuing and revocation of liquor licenses in Port Washington.

    Although aldermen want to tighten the rules to prevent abuses, the proposed new ordinance is too nebulous and subject to interpretation to be effective, said Barney Bannon, who owns the building that formerly housed Foxy’s tavern.

    “If you pass that ordinance, you could shut everybody in town down in six months if you wanted to,” Bannon said.

    Even if that’s not the city’s intentions, he said, future councils could interpret the ordinance more stringently.

    “I can take your word, but I can’t predict the future,” he said. “Why do it? You’re creating uncertainty. I’d like to see some structure in there.”

    The impetus for the changes is the controversy over the denial of a liquor license for the former Foxy’s tavern late last year, Grams said, noting that several aldermen said at the time they wanted to see the city’s licensing regulations tightened.

    Most of the proposed changes only affect applicants for new liquor licenses who, if the new ordinance is approved, must submit significantly more information to the city before their application can be approved.

    For example, new liquor license applicants will be required to provide a detailed business plan to the city for approval and, in subsequent years, to obtain city approval for any substantive changes to that plan.

    Sara Grover, executive director of Port Washington Main Street, said many of the concerns spring from requirements that new license holders have a security plan approved by the police department, particularly if security cameras are required.

    Security systems are expensive, and add to the considerable cost of opening a new business, Grover said.

    “I’m not looking to put anybody out of business,” Police Chief Kevin Hingiss said, adding that a system with two cameras inside and two outside could cost $1,500.

    Police Chief Kevin Hingiss said he had surveyed the 34 liquor license holders in the city and 20 already have cameras in place, though he wasn’t sure how many are compatible with his department’s systems.

    Cameras are important because they help deter thefts and provide police with a certain record of what happens in an incident, he added.

    “It’s not he said, she said anymore,” Hingiss said.

    But Maria Kiesow, co-owner of Pasta Shoppe, said cameras are not a panacea, noting that their presence at her restaurant has not always deterred theft.

    Cathy Wilger, director of sales at Holiday Inn Harborview, said security cameras can also create a liability for companies. A number of years ago, the hotel’s parent company was successfully sued for not constantly monitoring its cameras when an incident occurred, she said.

    Kiesow asked if other downtown businesses would be required to install exterior cameras, which officials said could be used to identify people who break off trees and damage property.

    She also questioned a requirement that new license holders submit a detailed business operation plan to the city, asking who will review these plans.

    “I think the businesses need to have confidence in them,” she said.

    The city’s Finance and License Committee and the Common Council would review the plans, City Administrator Mark Grams said.

    Ald. Jim Vollmar, who stepped down from his seat to address the council, asked that the city consider a simplified version of the ordinance that he drew up and that places the final say on licenses with the Finance and License Committee rather than the council.

    Grover said tavern owners and operators would like to meet with city officials before the proposed ordinance is acted on to clarify it and address their concerns.

    “These are good businesses here,” she said. “They bring people to Port Washington. They have some good ideas. They’d like to feel they’re contributing.”

    Grams said officials are willing to do that before the council acts on the proposed measure Wednesday, Feb. 20.



 
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