Bar patron behavior focus of measure

Amendment lets SPD cite owners for failing to control unruly customers

A revised version of a liquor ordinance amendment proposal requiring establishments to better control customer behavior was unanimously approved by the Stillwater City Council Tuesday.

The revised amendment penalizes city liquor establishments that get 10 police citations in a calendar year for unruly customers. The new amendment only applies to the inside of downtown restaurants and bars.

Establishment owners would be notified of citations that occur on their premises. After five citations, a Stillwater Police Department official would be expected to meet with the establishment’s owner. Citations would not be retroactive.

According to City Attorney David Magnuson, restaurant and bar owners were very vocal about the amendment after it was proposed in mid-October.

“We met with liquor establishment owners several times to find a solution to prohibit excess bad behavior at restaurants and bars downtown,” he said.

The first proposal said if liquor establishments received a combination of six citations, they would be fined and placed on the Minnesota Department of Revenue’s posted list of sales tax-delinquent liquor establishments. The citations and responsibility for controlling unruly customers would have extended to areas surrounding bars and restaurants under the original amendment.

Magnuson said penalties remain to be determined and will likely be set at the council’s first January meeting after more talks with the community.

“We’d have to have pretty draconian penalties since some establishments have not been receptive to working with us,” said Police Chief John Gannaway.

Gannaway added that establishment owners not receptive to working with police were those with the most calls in the last year.

Ward 2 Councilwoman Micky Cook said she heard the first meeting about the issue was contentious but the second meeting she attended had an overall positive tone.

“The individuals involved in the meeting I attended were fully engaged and there was a lot of give and take back and forth to reach an agreement that was good for everyone,” she said.

Larry Odebrecht, a spokesman for the family of Adam McCloud, who’s death in October caused by a bar assault sparked the amendment, said he supported the measure.

“It’s been a great experience working with the city and chief and it’s a good thing that the business community has gotten behind it,” Odebrecht said. “The police need some tools so that things don’t escalate to the level they did two months ago tonight.”