City News

Mayor and city council differ on the future of alcohol sales as veto override looms

The proposed ordinance will allow alcohol to be included in groceries that are dropped off to the vehicles of customers who order groceries online.

Image By: Cameron Lane-Flehinger

The Madison Common Council will vote Tuesday to override the mayor’s three vetoes related to an ordinance change that will allow businesses to drop off alcohol to customer’s cars.

The ordinance, sponsored by Ald. Mike Verveer, District 4, was established to allow “Click and Collect” stores to include alcohol in groceries that are delivered to customers in their cars picking up their order.

The ordinance was established after the council finally elected to take up waivers requested by both Wal-Mart and Pick n’ Save.

The ordinance would have businesses apply for a “change of premises” that would expand the location of a given establishment to its parking lot so it would they would legally be able to distribute alcohol there.

Establishments would have to retain an image of the vehicle picking up the order as well as the customer’s name, date of birth, ID and license plate number for 30 days.

The vetoes issued by Mayor Paul Soglin apply to the entire ordinance, as well as its application to a local Wal-Mart and Pick n’ Save that have already applied for the change of premises license.

In his veto, Soglin felt the ordinance disproprotionately hurts small liquor stores that may not have the parking space to accommodate the addition of “Click and Collect” services.

“Smaller liquor stores, the locally owned stores, with limited parking lots or no parking lots, will not have the space to complete this outdoor transaction,” he wrote.

Soglin added that the ordinance is a public safety concern and that purchases in an establishment have better lighting and identification.

Just over a month ago, on Jan. 3, the council failed to override the mayor’s controversial veto of a liquor license for a State Street Taco Bell.

Verveer believes that this override has a better chance of succeeding than the last.

“We agree to disagree and because the council voted overwhelmingly at our last meeting to adopt the ordinance to grant the two applications, I would suspect that that would be the case again on Tuesday,” he said.

Regardless, Verveer noted the disagreement between the council and the mayor shows a distinct difference in opinion between how the city should move forward with the distribution of alcohol.

Last Thursday, Soglin proposed a new moratorium on liquor licenses in the downtown area, extending from the intersection of Monroe Street and Regent Street to the Capitol Square.

“The mayor absolutely seems to be prioritizing these days more of a control on alcohol and is certainly urging us and City Hall to enact alcohol policy that is more restrictive than we currently have,” he said.

Verveer added that he and the mayor are working to find common ground regarding the future issuance of alcohol licenses and alcohol distribution but added he believed the current moratorium would adversely affect local business.

“My biggest concern is that if a moratorium like this is enacted it will have a significant chilling effect on the opening of any new restaurants in the downtown-campus area and will just likely lead to vacant storefronts on State Street and elsewhere,” he said.

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