A new liquor license was approved by City Council by a vote of 4-2. The up-scale restaurant / wine bar will be located at 209 S. Main St. The owner Mr. Bires is going to invest $850,000 in this endeavor. This new business will result in approximately 20 new jobs which will add to the income tax revenue and general fund accounts, and revitalize the empty buildings that can be a real challenge in these tough economic times.
There was a lot of debate about this issue, mostly stirred up by a few council members who have yet to learn or refuse to recognize the separation of their council duties and their personal values. I don’t feel we should “incite” citizens in order to focus media attention on ourselves.
I understand the concerns of the other downtown business owners; because I spoke with them directly. But City council is not the moral compass of our community. The role of City Council is to legislate within the framework of the Ohio Revised Code and the Charter of the City of Amherst, to look at this potential opportunity and evaluate its feasibility based on the legal opinion of our Law Director. We have to be careful not to impede on others rights of due process and free enterprise.
Law Director Pecora explained the new business has satisfied an extensive list of all the state mandated criteria, discussed and fielded questions about Ohio Revised Code 4303.292 (grounds for refusal to issue, transfer ownership or location or renew permit).
As on all matters the city has to look at the business and legal aspects of the entire issue. If we had requested a hearing with the Ohio Liquor Board, the City would have to present compelling and legitimate reasons why we are against it. Lack of parking, other establishments in the area, or you simply are against it are not good reasons for the Ohio Liquor Control Board.
As a City, we want to attract new business and encourage growth; I think this new establishment will be as asset to our downtown corridor and I wish Mr. Bires the best of luck.