Aldermen Tighten Liquor License Restrictions, Reduce Potential Fines for Lake Bloomington Dock Owners

 Council members Monday night approved new liquor license restrictions and an amended resolution concerning 18 Lake Bloomington docks facing City-ordered removal. (Image credit: Breanna Grow)

Council members Monday night approved new liquor license restrictions and an amended resolution concerning 18 Lake Bloomington docks facing City-ordered removal. (Image credit: Breanna Grow)

A new restriction was added to the City’s liquor code Monday night: the City of Bloomington won’t grant liquor licenses to new businesses located within 100 feet of a day care center.

City Council members voted 5-4 to approve the ordinance adding day care centers to a list of locations protected in the liquor code, which already includes churches, schools, senior care centers and hospitals.

The ordinance also expands the types of businesses subject to the location restrictions, from those whose primary business is liquor sales to any business selling packaged liquor.

Aldermen Amelia Buragas and Jamie Mathy worried the new restrictions, while aimed at protecting young children, could have unintended consequences for other Bloomington residents.

Buragas said she would hesitate to make the kind of broad changes included in the ordinance that would affect grocery stores, one type of business subject to the new restrictions.

Mathy pointed out the new rules could especially impact Bloomington’s West Side, classified as a “food desert” because of the lack of access to nutritious food.

“I’m concerned about prohibiting someone from coming in that might want to put a grocery store on South Main Street or somewhere even remotely close to Downtown that would better serve the West Side.”

Both opposed the ordinance, joined by Aldermen Scott Black and Diana Hauman.

Existing businesses won’t be subject to the new restrictions.

Lake Bloomington Docks

The City’s water department still plans to serve compliance orders to the owners of 18 Lake Bloomington boat docks, but with fewer potential fines attached.

Council members Monday night considered a resolution directing water department staff to order the removal of any docks in violation of City building code.

Alderman Jamie Mathy offered to amend the resolution, with fines only assessed if and when the City’s administrative court ordered a dock owner to remove the structure.

“We have people who feel like they have permit to the dock, but they could have 60-90 days of fines accruing before they even get their chance to go to administrative court to present their case,” said Mathy.

Without the added provision, dock owners faced a $250 fine for each day following the issuance of a court summons that their docks remained standing. With the City planning to set a special court date August 29, dock owners waiting to have their case heard in court could have paid thousands of dollars in fines.

Council members unanimously approved the amended resolution.

What’s Next: The City’s legal and water departments plan to conduct a final review of the docks before sending out compliance orders within a few weeks.