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Summit liquor license on line

BY NICOLE KARLIS | NOVEMBER 10, 2009 7:20 AM

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The third Iowa City bar to fight for its liquor-license is set to face the Iowa City City Council next week.

The Summit filed a license-renewal application last week, and it will go before the City Council on Nov. 17, said City Clerk Marian Karr. The bar clocked in with a 1.925 PAULA-per-police-visit ratio.

Iowa City Police Chief Sam Hargadine has recommended the council deny Summit’s license, noting the 10 S. Clinton St. bar’s ratio is one of the highest in the city. Under new criteria, the chief must recommend such a denial if a bar exceeds a ratio of one PAULA per visit.

But the bar’s management is calmly accepting their fate.

“We’re going to be denied,” said general manager Tom Lenoch. “There is nothing we can do about it until the state decides if this law is equal and fair … Our future depends on what happens to Et Cetera and Fieldhouse.”

The first two bars to fall under the new criteria — Et Cetera and 3rd Base, commonly called Fieldhouse — have appealed the council’s denials to the Iowa Alcoholic Beverages Division. Their legal teams argued the city’s new guidelines for denial are too vague. Both are waiting for a final decision from Administrative Law Judge Margaret LaMarche.

At an Oct. 23 hearing, LaMarche said she plans to review tapes of City Council meetings when councilors set the ratio.

Summit employees and police officials said they plan to attend next week’s meeting to make their cases in front of the councilors, who will ultimately decide to renew or deny the bar’s liquor license.

If denied by the council, Summit plans to follow the other bars’ lead.

“We’re going to appeal once it gets denied,” Lenoch said.

Summit’s 1.925 ratio is based on PAULA reports from October 2008 through last month, said Iowa City police Sgt. Troy Kelsay.

During 80 police visits in its 12-month review period, officers handed out 154 underage drinking tickets.

Kelsay said he’s planning to take another look at the numbers before the meeting.

“I’ll try to flesh out the statistics a little more,” he said; he wants to further break down which tickets occurred inside and which occurred in front of the bar.

But to fall below the 1.00 ratio, they’ll need to lose 74 PAULAs, Kelsay said.

The city sent a letter last week to Mike Porter, who owns the Summit and two other downtown bars, informing him of Hargadine’s recommendation to deny.

Porter was unavailable for comment on Monday.

Despite having a PAULA-per-visit ratio nearly twice the city’s limit, Lenoch said employees are prepared for the fight.

“It’s going to be a legal battle,” he said, but noted that the establishment expects to see a loss in revenue.


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