PORTSMOUTH — Among his few proposals discussed during Monday’s City Managers session, 5th Ward Councilman Edwin Martell briefed Portsmouth City Council on the possibility of the city coming into possession of additional liquor licenses.
Through contact with the Ohio Department of Commerce Division of Liquor Control, Martell said Portsmouth could carry these licenses and then distribute to varying individuals throughout the city.
Acting essentially as lease agreements, the prices for these licenses will be on the lower end as compared to what is going on currently. This would at least be of benefit to one of Martell’s constituents, whom he said made him aware of the situation.
“Those who currently are in possession of liquor licenses want an astronomical amount of money for it,” he said during the March 8 evening meeting. “How do we stop individuals stopping other individuals from putting up businesses in our town? This is just one way for us to get around it.”
According to the DOC, prices for these licenses differ for restaurants and bars, manufacturers, and distributors. The common price for a one-year permit is $2,344 applied to restaurants, clubs, hotels and motels, marinas, and enclosed shopping malls. Permits for riverboats and museums did vary, however, fetching respectively for $1,219 and $1,875 annually.
The state board would come to town for an assessment at some point, finding out the number of businesses, bars, and restaurants before disseminating a set number of licenses. Prior to that, Martell said the council will need to deem an improvement zone such as downtown.
The length of these leases depends on the number of licenses received, Martell said answering a question posed by 2nd Ward Councilwoman Charlotte Gordon.
“This is all still discussion,” he said, in the early stages of crafting a plan. “I’m still getting more information from the state about it and just discussing it with you guys to see if this something you would entertain.”
1st Ward Councilman Sean Dunne was among those that supported the measure, seeing it as another way to bring in capital to the city through increased economic opportunities.
“Having a destination city and places where people can go to go out, I think the liquor licenses would help especially with the declining population over the past few decades,” he said, the city continuously losing residents since its 1930 peak of 42,560.
Council has recently passed alcohol-related legislation, where the Designated Outdoor Refreshment Area passed in a 5-0 August vote. Joining several other Ohio cities, the zone is located in the western part of town and would allow citizens to consume alcoholic beverages in the outdoor space.
“The program has been very successful in other cities and I’m sure Portsmouth will have similar results,” said Tim Wolfe previously, owner of Patties and Pints that is included in the DORA district. “It will provide people with a safe way to enjoy our downtown restaurants and businesses, and I think it will add to the fun atmosphere that has developed here in recent years.”
Dunne replied on Wednesday that City Manager Sam Sutherland told him the signs advertising where the district will be located and its rules will be posted prior to St. Patrick’s Day.
Reach Patrick Keck (740)-353-3501 ext. 1931, by email at [email protected], or on Twitter @pkeckreporter.
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