Liquor commission looks at problematic laws

By Andrew Schlesser

The DeKalb Liquor Commission convened Tuesday in an attempt to identify and discuss consistently problematic city liquor ordinances.

Concerns and criticisms about city ordinances were generally leveled at live entertainment events, outdoor special events and public safety.

The commission mulled over the possibility that DeKalb might need to update its definition of live entertainment.

“The city defines live entertainment as anything beyond the normal ongoing of [the establishment],” said DeKalb City Attorney Norma Guess.

Commission member Matthew Kapustianyk said the definition is far too broad.

Some places just have a person changing CDs and call them a disk jockey, he said. Other times it’s quite different, with a real DJ, a real crowd and a lot of noise.

The commission also discussed how live entertainment cover-charging ordinances can be changed to benefit the city and its businesses. Nothing conclusive was determined, but it’s evidence that ordinance modification could be approaching. One idea proposed would create a system based on crowd sizes, with larger ones warranting a greater fee.

Another ordinance examined was the limitations on how many special events the city allows profit and non-profit organizations to hold on one day.

Anybody who wants to hold a special event has to get permission from the city and pay a $50 fee, said DeKalb City Clerk Donna Johnson.

“The problem is, more than one establishment wants an outdoor event at the same time,” Johnson said.

Bars request reservations for their events up to eight months in advance, Johnson said.

Second Ward Alderman Kris Povlsen sat amongst the liquor commission members, voicing his concerns over public safety.

“I’m concerned about occupancy, parking and ordinance violations,” Povlsen said.

Povlsen also put the topic of server training requirements on the table for the commission to discuss.

“Anybody working a job that could possibly put people in danger should be trained,” he said.

The next liquor commission meeting will be held Nov. 15 at the DeKalb Municipal Building.