The St. James City Council moved to pass a new ordinance which would set the closing time for businesses with an on-sale liquor, beer and non-intoxicating malt liquor license.
As the law stands now, businesses with the license must stop serving alcohol after 1 a.m. and must have all alcohol off the table by 1:30 a.m. The current ordinance, however, doesn’t say a business then has to close its doors.
“The liquor is being cleared off the tables, and what’s happening then, is they are letting the patrons stay into the place another three hours,” said Police Chief Mark Carvatt.
Mi Tierra, a business in downtown St. James has remained open until the early hours of the morning after clearing the restaurant of alcohol – sometimes until 3 or 4 a.m. The new ordinance would require the restaurant to close its doors at 1:30 a.m.
“I’ve had to have officers stop in to inspect because it is an establishment that sells 3.2 beer, to make sure that sales are not going on and it’s continued on since the violation that you’ll hear at the next meeting,” said Carvatt. “So this has been an ongoing every weekend type situation where we have 20-25 vehicles parked up front, and a party going til all hours in the morning – for a department that means we have to inspect that, we can’t just let it go, especially with a violation.”
This new ordinance passed unanimously, and will go into effect if it can pass a second reading at the next city council meeting. Minnesota case law in Rice County supports the new ordinance.
Council Member Kathy Hanson had some questions about bills for some fuel by the ambulance. It appeared as though the ambulance was filling up at local businesses rather than using the county service station which has fuel at a set price.
“I was just thinking that we’re doing it for price, is that true?” Asked Hanson.
Members of the board stated that city vehicles are not contractually obligated to use the county fuel, and if the prices are lower than those prices the city is contracted to purchase at through the county, city vehicles could fill up at city pumps.
“There are going to be times, where because we are in a locked in price with the county, it is going to be cheaper to go into Casey’s and fill up, and we’re in the process right now of analyzing that,” said City Manager Joe McCabe.
Once Hanson’s questions were cleared up, the consent items passed unanimously.
City council heard a noise complaint from Michael Olson of St. James. Olson complained that the Tabernaculo de Alabanza Temple of Praise, a local church, was playing its music too loud and the sound of the church was carrying to his home.
Page 2 of 2 - Police Chief Mark Carvatt said on 14 occasions in which Olson called the police to make a noise complaint, in only two instances could the officers hear any audible noise. The other complaints were unfounded. All complaints were prior to 10 p.m., with the possible exception of one.
“The church is in a lawful location, the noise ordinance accepts certain activities of the church,” said City Attorney Steve Sunde. “Secondly, there is even a greater issue, freedom of speech, freedom of expression, there’s a possible constitutional issue there that protects the church.”
Representative of the church, Naomi Rodriguez said she would work with Olson to ensure that he felt comfortable in his home. She also stated that the church has been looking at possibly moving, but the rent is too high in other buildings.
Olson proposed that a plexiglass wall be created to deflect the sound-waves away from his home. The two parties involved with the case will work out the issue amongst themselves with Rentz acting as an intermediary. The church has no obligation to fulfill Olson’s request, as they are legally allowed to practice their constitutional right to freedom of speech.
Greg Lingbeek met with the city council to request that sidewalk from his home be removed. The sidewalk does not extend to the end of the road and as described by Lingbeek, is pretty beat up.
City council denied Lingbeeks request on the grounds that sidewalks are very difficult to replace once removed. Lingbeek is not required to shovel any part of the property that doesn’t have concrete below.
Lingbeek also requested that the council change section nine of the public utility rules which would remove the monthly sewer service charge for any vacant apartments in his building. As it is now, the apartments are vacant, but connected to a single water meter at the bottom of the complex. Lingbeek is charged for every apartment, even while paying the water bill, regardless of whether or not the apartments are vacant.
Council members approved his request on a per-property basis. Lingbeek will have to enter into a contract with the city stating that he will not knowingly defer the water service charges when the apartment is no longer vacant.
City Council moved to pay a delinquent account in the amount of $2,073.19.