The Washington Street Jazz Club, located across the street from Excellence Academy, was granted a Class A liquor license at last night’s meeting of the Monroe City Council, despite no documentation showing that the club meets the requirement that it be situated 300 feet or more from a “public playground or of a building used exclusively as a church or synagogue, public library, or school,” per Monroe Code of Ordinances Section 4-24.
However, Planning & Urban Development Director Chris Fischer said he had remeasured the distance, and that it was more than the required 300 feet. An original measurement done in February showed the distance, measured along the sidewalks, to be 264 feet.
See here that document.
Fischer supplied no documentation with his verbal assertion, nor did the council receive any documents in their information packets before the meeting. Fischer seemed to indicate that he also measured along the sidewalk, although his comments were unintelligible, both live and on our tape recording of the meeting. Betty Blakes (District Three) asked Fischer to repeat what he said, but that too was not plain. We did pick the word “sidewalk” from the reply. When asked if the distance was more that 300 feet, he said yes.
Asked by District One’s Ray Armstrong how the distance could be two different numbers, Director of Taxation & Revenue Tim Lewis said that his department had requested the initial report and that it came back negative. He noted that “We didn’t request the second distance report, that was done at Mr. Fischer’s request.”
Lewis added, “What I can understand from reading the distance report, they measured from the sidewalks, which created angles, which created more distance.”
The method of measurement is defined in Section 4-24(b):
This distance shall be measured as a person walks using the sidewalks, if available, from the nearest point of the property line of the church, synagogue, library, playground or school to the nearest point of the premises to be licensed or such method as may hereafter be prescribed by state law. In the absence of sidewalks, this distance may be conducted by measuring in a straight line from the nearest point of the property line of the church or synagogue, public library, playground, school, or full-time day care center to the nearest point of the premises to be licensed. Such alternative method of measurement shall only apply prospectively to the issuance of a new alcohol permit issued on or after May 23, 2006, the adoption date of Ordinance No. 10,592.
The bar was the subject of a controversy last year when Mayor Jamie Mayo was seen at the bar during a campaign event for erstwhile Shreveport mayoral candidate Sam Jenkins. At the time, the bar was unlicensed.
More reporting tomorrow.