In a public hearing held at the regularly scheduled city council meeting, the St. James City Council Members heard Jose Melendez defend his restaurant Mi Tierra.
Mi Tierra was found in violation of their liquor license after a few individuals were seen consuming alcohol on the premises after hours. Mi Tierra has had no violations prior to this incident, nor have they had any following.
Melendez spoke on his own behalf and told the council that he was not selling alcohol himself, and was unaware that the license forbid after hour consumption for private parties.
“He could have walked from the outside in with that beer,” said Melendez. “I will go to court and I will not plead guilty to that, because it’s not something I did.”
Police Chief Mark Carvatt insisted that the issue wasn’t whether or not alcohol was sold in the restaurant, but that alcohol was being consumed after hours in a restaurant.
“The issue is not who brought the beer in, the hearing is about who is responsible for the business and what goes on in that business,” said Carvatt.
Another issue that was brought up for the city council to consider was the idea that Melendez changed his story within five minutes of being caught with alcohol in the establishment. His original story contained the idea that he was unaware alcohol couldn’t be served at a private function. He then came back to the police with the story that the individuals had brought the alcohol into the restaurant, according to the police officer who wrote the report.
The St. James City Council, decided to follow the recommendation of City Attorney Steve Sunde and stay a suspension for Melendez and Mi Tierra for 60 days while the violation is being tried in court. Mi Tierra can operate as it has been, with no violations for 60 days, at that time the suspension will be done – unless the restaurant is found guilty in the courts. Then the case will be considered and Melendez could see his liquor license revoked.
Also effecting the Mi Tierra restaurant will be the new ordinance which passed upon second reading at the Tuesday council meeting. The ordinance, which will go into effect Thursday, April 4, 2013, will limit the hours of business for those restaurants serving liquor, beer and non-intoxicating malt liquor to the hours of operation which coincide with the hours of sale of liquor.
This means that businesses that serve liquor will have to be closed from the hours of 1:30 a.m. until 8 a.m. while the sale of liquor is prohibited. This new ordinance passed unanimously upon second reading.
The St. James City Council accepted bids for steel roofing from Kenny Carlson and Sellner Electric, Inc. Kenny Carlson’s bid was for roofing the shelter, bathroom, pool and club with a total bid price of $38,604. Sellner Electric, Inc.’s bid was for campground electrics and came in at $1,240.
Page 2 of 2 - Other Business:
Passed consent items including payment of claims and acceptance of workshop leave unanimously.
Approved previous meeting minutes.
Adopted a resolution declaring abandoned and surplus property and ordering sale of the framed wood structure picnic shelter located in Tiell Park Campground.
Supported a resolution for an $80 million increase in appropriation to the local government aid program from the State of Minnesota.