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Metro briefs

BY DI STAFF | MARCH 28, 2014 5:00 AM

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Liaison proposes citations for minor violations

Alec Bramel, the University of Iowa Student Government liaison to the Iowa City City Council, sent a letter to the council on Wednesday urging the city to consider creating municipal ordinances to provide law enforcement the option to give civil citations for minor alcohol violations.

Currently, Bramel said in his letter, officers are left with two options when confronted with an alcohol violation: issue no citation or issue a criminal misdemeanor citation.

This can lead to a criminal record, even if a person cooperates with the officer, which Bramel said can make it more difficult for students to find work after graduating.

He said giving civil citations would still teach violators the importance of following the law without permanently hurting their ability to find employment.

— by Daniel Seidl

Council may ease expansion restrictions for drinking establishments

Some restrictions for nonconforming drinking establishments in Iowa City may be loosened by the city council.

The council will vote on second consideration of an ordinance amending the zoning code to change the definition of enlargement/expansion on Tuesday.

Nonconforming drinking establishments are those in which alcohol is served and don’t comply with the required separation distance between drinking establishments. One of the restrictions put on these establishments is that they can’t be enlarged or expanded.

The amendment the council will vote on would change the definition of enlargement/expansion so that any expansion to a commercial kitchen that doesn’t increase maximum occupancy load wouldn’t be considered an expansion.

These changes could increase the ability of nonconforming establishments to serve food.

— by Daniel Seidl

Council may tweak entertainment-venue exception

Confusion on a current exemption may lead to a clarification of the 21-ordinance.

The City Council will vote on a second consideration of an ordinance that would refine the entertainment-venue exception of the 21-ordinance.

The ordinance would clarify the city could deny an entertainment-exception application under the same circumstance that the business could lose their exemptions. These circumstances include serving alcohol to an underage person more than once in a five-year period, as well as when continued operation of the business would be detrimental to residents.

This clarification could also lead to the denial of the pending application of the Summit — 10 S. Clinton St. — which, according to the city, has had two sale-to-minors charges in the past year.

The ordinance would also narrow the window in which an establishment could have a sale-to-underage charge. The period would be changed to the previous five years at the time the application is submitted, rather than any five-year period in the business’ history.

The change may encourage establishments to change their practices rather than being permanently disqualified.

Under the new change, the definition of “DJ” would also be clarified. Currently, DJs are not considered performers. However, this is not meant to affect “producers” who play electronic drum machines, which could be considered instruments. The clarification will update the definition to only those who play recorded songs or advertise as DJs.

— by Daniel Seidl

Council to consider Gateway design

Iowa City officials are once again moving forward with the Gateway Project.

The project will raise a portion of Dubuque Street and redesign Park Road Bridge to better prevent flooding. The council will consider various design elements for the project at their Tuesday meeting.

City staff held a public input meeting for the project in February, and the members have taken the feedback into account in their recommendations to the council.

The recommendations from the staff are for a 10-foot-wide trail on the west side of Dubuque Street, with a 6-foot sidewalk on the east side, widening to 8 feet from Mayflower heading south.

The recommendation includes a intersection with traffic where Dubuque intersects with Foster Road and a midblock crosswalk at Mayflower. There would be a intersection with signals at the intersection of Dubuque and Park Road, as there is now.

The recommended parkway width would be an 8-feet minimum on the west side of Dubuque Street and 8 feet on the east side.

There would be two northbound and southbound lanes on Dubuque Street, with a median from Taft to Mayflower. There would also be an extra turning lane on Park Road Bridge.

The recommended lane width is 12 feet.

The recommended speed limit is unchanged from the current limit on Dubuque Street, 35 mph from Foster to Kimball, transitioning to 25 mph for the remainder. The design speed is 5 mph faster than the speed limit along the street.

— by Daniel Seidl


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