City loosens restrictions on liquor
Council action paves way for alcohol at restaurant
It appears that a downtown Tonganoxie restaurant will be allowed to serve liquor when it opens next month.
Jack Cronemeyer, owner of Badd Jack's Southwest restaurant, has applied with the state to serve liquor. But because Tonganoxie ordinances state that liquor may not be sold within 200 feet of a church, Cronemeyer's request was in peril of being turned down. The restaurant, in the 400 block of East Fourth Street, is 170 feet from the United Methodist Church's property line.
On Monday, after hearing from 10 people on both sides of the issue and discussing the matter among themselves, Tonganoxie City Council members approved measures that will allow Cronemeyer to serve alcohol. About 40 people attended the meeting.
Council members originally voted 2-1-1, with council members Kathy Graveman and Janet Angell voting for the measure, council member Pat Albert against and council member Steve Gumm abstaining. Council member Emmett Wetta was absent. Gumm abstained, saying he had written Cronemeyer's mortgage on behalf of Gumm's employer, First State Bank and Trust of Tonganoxie.
Because an abstention is considered a negative vote, Mayor John Franiuk voted for the measure, to break the tie.
Council members agreed to:
Change a city ordinance that states that liquor may not be sold within 200 feet of a church. They removed "drinking establishments" from the ordinance. But liquor sales from liquor stores or taverns still are prohibited within 200 feet of a church, school or library.
Repeal a city ordinance that states that cereal malt beverages may not be sold within 500 feet of a school, church or school.
Council members will consider the changes to the ordinances at their Sept. 10 meeting. City Attorney Mike Crowe said he does not believe a public hearing is necessary at that meeting.
Albert said he voted against the measures because he didn't think it went far enough to clean up city ordinances.
"Today, it's a church," he said. "Tomorrow, it will probably be a school. We helped the downtown business owner, which is good. I think we'll be back at this again."
Several area residents spoke Monday night during the council meeting.
Attorney Mike Gibbens, representing the church's administrative council, said one of the United Methodists' missions is to educate people about alcohol and encourage abstinence from it.
"Our church is behind his restaurant," Gibbens said, but not in favor of serving alcohol.
And the Rev. YongBo Lee, pastor at the church, said, "I'm not here to be against you. Some day, I'll be one of your customers."
But Lee said one of his church's social principles was abstinence from alcohol.
The Rev. Dan Eller of Heartland Community Church of the Nazarene agreed.
"Our body of believers stands firm with our brothers in the Methodist church," he said.
But several other area residents said they believe Cronemeyer's restaurant will be an asset to downtown Tonganoxie.
"He's not opening a saloon," said Richard Reidel. "If he was opening a saloon, I'd be against it."