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Port Washington


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.



 
City identifies sites for potential development PDF Print E-mail
Community
Written by KRISTYN HALBIG ZIEHM   
Wednesday, 30 January 2013 19:53

More than a dozen properties under consideration as Port officials begin exploring commercial, residential uses

    Port Washington officials last week identified more than a dozen properties throughout the city as potential sites for development or redevelopment.

    Many of the properties are included in the city’s 2035 comprehensive plan, but little has been done with them since the list was compiled years ago, Randy Tetzlaff, the city’s director of planning and development, told the Community Development Authority Jan. 21.

    The committee should determine which properties remain on the list, prioritize them and figure out what’s next, Tetzlaff suggested.

    “Is this something the committee wants to get involved in?” Tetzlaff asked. “Do we want to be aggressive? Do we want to reach out to people? I’m looking for you to give me direction.”

    Committee member Ruth Lansing said the city needs to not only prioritize the list but begin talks with property owners.

    The process of prioritizing the list is expected to begin when the committee meets again Feb. 18.

    Among the potential redevelopment sites are:

    • The Port Shopping Center and an adjoining lot on the city’s far north side. The almost 8.5-acre property includes the center, which hasn’t been filled since it was built. Numerous developments have been proposed for the adjoining lot, but none were completed.

    • The former Simplicity property on North Spring Street. Only about a third of the 300,000-square-foot building there is leased.    Tetzlaff said the site could remain industrial or be used for something else.
 
   • The Jadair property along South Milwaukee Street, the only industrial site in downtown Port.

    • Several industrial properties on South Park Street and Schmitz Drive that Tetzlaff said are currently underused.

    • A former trailer park on South Spring Street that’s currently owned by the city. The original intent was to find a commercial use, but a residential use might be equally appropriate, Tetzlaff said, adding the land is in the Town of Port.

    • The former EVS dealership on South Spring Street. The land could be divided into as many as five lots, Tetzlaff said, adding there has been some interest in using the land for warehousing, but that use isn’t permitted under city codes.

    • The former grocery store in the Port Harbor Center downtown. The 11,000-square-foot space has been vacant for about 16 years.

    • The former Dairy Queen building, which Tetzlaff said has been “a merry-go-round” of food-service uses that haven’t been successful.

    • The former Victor’s Pier Street restaurant, which has also been home to several unsuccessful restaurants.

    Committee member Erica Roller also suggested the city consider adding the former Clark Service Station site on Grand Avenue to the list.

    Among the new development sites are:

    • The former Schanen farm along Highway 33 near the city’s west side. Portions of the city-owned property are earmarked for a baseball complex, but other areas are expected to be used for residential and commercial uses.

    • The former Highway LL ramp land owned by Ozaukee County on the northwest corner of highways 33 and LL.

    • A parcel along Highway 32 that’s just east of the former Harris Bank. The land is between Highway LL and Sauk Road.

    • The Weiss property north of Allen Edmonds Shoe Corp. along Highway LL on the city’s north side.

    • A future business park north of I-43 and east of the bike trail. This property is not served by utilities, Tetzlaff said.

    • The former VK property east of the railroad tracks and off Maritime Drive on the city’s south side. This land is intended for business park, industrial or commercial uses, Tetzlaff said.


 
City begins toughening liquor license rules PDF Print E-mail
Community
Written by KRISTYN HALBIG ZIEHM   
Wednesday, 23 January 2013 19:44

Port officials start fine-tuning regulations that will require new applicants to submit detailed business plans

    Port Washington officials on Tuesday took the first step in tightening up the process to issue and revoke a liquor license.

    Most of the proposed changes 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, 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.

    “Essentially this will tell you what a new operation would look like,” City Attorney Eric Eberhardt told the Common Council.

    Among the information to be included in the business plan is whether the applicant is buying or leasing the facility, any anticipated building improvements, the names and training of the manager, bar staff and security staff, business hours, types of music, food and entertainment offered, the targeted clientele, the potential impact on the neighborhood and police services and how it will meet city ordinances

    Applicants would also be required to meet with the police chief to negotiate a security plan that could include video monitoring of the inside and outside of the premises on equipment compatible with the police department’s. The plan would become part of a license stipulation that would be incorporated into the license agreement.

    The stipulation could also include prohibitions on the sale of unlimited beverages for a fixed price, among other things.

    New and renewing license applicants would be required to have their premises inspected by the police and fire chiefs and the building inspector, who can then make recommendations to the Common Council.  

    The proposed licensing changes were largely modeled on Green Bay’s licensing procedures, Eberhardt said.

    The city would not require business or security plans for current license holders who want to renew their licenses, Eberhardt said.

    “A liquor license is a privilege, not a right, so conditions can be placed on a new license,” he said.

    But existing holders of the licenses have vested rights and, unless they violate the law, there is a presumption the license will be renewed, Eberhardt said.

    However, if there are problems with an existing tavern, the city could ticket the business and then negotiate reasonable conditions with the owner, he said.

    The ordinance changes would also replace the existing demerit point system for violations — a process Eberhardt said he can’t recall being used in the 14 years he’s been city attorney.

    The new ordinance incorporates state law, which he said prohibits such things as keeping a “riotous house” and selling liquor to a habitual drunk, with 10 additional conditions that could be used to revoke, suspend or non-renew a license.

    These include making false statements on a license application, interfering with police officers, violations involving alcohol and juveniles, creating a public or private nuisance and allowing conduct, including loud noise, that has a substantial adverse affect on the neighborhood.

    City Administrator Mark Grams said current liquor license holders will be notified of the proposed changes before the council’s Feb. 5 meeting, when a public hearing on the new ordinance will be held.

    Aldermen will not act on the ordinance at that meeting, he stressed, but will instead vote on it during their Feb. 19 meeting.

    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.

    But not all aldermen agreed with the changes proposed.

    Ald. Dave Larson, chairman of the Finance and License Committee, which recommends granting or denying liquor licenses, said he is concerned that the city is getting too involved with private business.

    “I think people should be allowed to run a business the way they want to,” he said, adding that such items as cameras in taverns could be recommended by the city but perhaps not mandated.

    “I don’t think it’s up to us to mandate that,” he said.

    But Ald. Paul Neumyer said he does not believe it’s unreasonable, noting the footage won’t be viewed or requested by police unless there’s a need.

    “It’s a great tool for law enforcement,” said Neumyer, a retired police officer.   



 
Candidate starts write-in bid for aldermanic seat PDF Print E-mail
Community
Written by KRISTYN HALBIG ZIEHM   
Wednesday, 16 January 2013 18:37

    A write-in candidate has emerged for Port Washington’s 5th District aldermanic seat, which is being vacated by Ald. Joe Dean.

    Kevin Rudser, a member of the city’s Board of Public Works, announced last week he would seek the seat on the Common Council.

    His write-in campaign was spurred by friends who urged him to run, Rudser said, adding he’s had political aspirations but wanted to be sure he had enough time to do a good job before running for office.

    Rudser, who is a co-chairman of the city’s Waterfront Safety Committee and a member of the Port Washington Main Street promotions committee, said it’s an exciting time to run for office.

    “I like the direction the community is going in,” Rudser said. “I think we’re seeing a real rebirth of the downtown. There’s a lot of good things happening. I want to help continue that.”

    He is also looking at some neighborhood initiatives and wants to keep an eye on the city’s taxes and spending, Rudser said.

    Rudser, 44, of 889 Glenlyon La., is facility manager at Curt Joa Inc. in Sheboygan Falls.

    If elected, he would be one of two new members of the Common Council.

    Harbor Commission member Bill Driscoll is seeking election to the District 3 seat being vacated by Ald. Jim Vollmar.

    Incumbent aldermen Mike Ehrlich and Dan Becker, who represent the city’s 1st and 7th districts, respectively, will be unopposed on the ballot.

    The spring election will be held Tuesday, April 2.

 
Grant to bolster Port’s war on ash borer PDF Print E-mail
Community
Written by KRISTYN HALBIG ZIEHM   
Wednesday, 09 January 2013 18:56

City to use $25,000 in state DNR funding to track treatments, protect trees, replace those killed by beetle

    Port Washington’s battle against the emerald ash borer got a boost with a $25,000 grant from the Department of Natural Resources, Public Works Director Rob Vanden Noven said Tuesday.

    The grant will help the city purchase a specialized software program to help it manage its trees and treatments against the borer, Vanden Noven told the Board of Public Works.

    The grant will also help purchase chemicals needed to treat ash trees against the borer and replace trees that are killed by the beetle, he said.

    The grant will provide matching funds, he said, so the city will have to spend an equal amount of money.

    That shouldn’t be difficult. The city has 1,100 ash trees along its streets — 14% of the trees that line its roads — and many more in its parks that are at risk of being killed by the borer, which was first detected in the community in June.

    Since then, the city has committed itself to waging a battle against the emerald ash borer, an invasive green beetle that has killed tens of millions of trees from the East Coast to the Midwest since it was first found in the U.S. in 2002.

    While the borer was first found in Port Washington last year, it has likely been in the community for years, officials said, noting it takes several years for trees to show the effect of the pest.

    Vanden Noven said he does not know how many trees in the city are infested with the borer.

    The borer was initially found in a dead ash tree on a wooded hillside in the 400 block of North Powers Street, and officials said several other trees in the area were likely killed by the borer.

    It has also been detected in trees downtown and on Webster Street, where Vanden Noven said virtually every ash tree is infested.

    Officials agreed last year that they will chemically treat select ash trees against the borer in an attempt to stem the damage done by the bug.

    The city may have another weapon to use against the insect, Vanden Noven told the board.

    The Department of Natural Resources has asked if the city would be willing to allow the release of parasitic wasps that feed on the borer’s eggs and larvae, Vanden Noven said.

    The wasps, which are the natural enemy of the borer, have been released at Riveredge Nature Center in the Town of Saukville, which is near the area where the first emerald ash borer in the state was detected in 2008.

    “They will spread here in a couple years, but releasing them here will make that happen sooner,” Vanden Noven said.

    State officials have said it will take as long as five years to determine whether the wasps are having an impact on the borer, he noted.

    “Do they sting?” board member Mike Ehrlich asked.

    The wasps are less than a quarter-inch in size and pose no danger to humans or other animals, Vanden Noven said.

    The DNR is not sure how many wasps it will have this year, he added, so there is no guarantee they will be released in Port Washington.

   

 
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