Bars and churches could be neighbors with proposed city amendment

The city of Minneapolis Regulatory, Energy and Environment Committee on Nov. 7 will hold a public hearing to decide if an old city alcohol ordinance is archaic and standing in the way of entrepreneurship. 

Under current city ordinance, alcohol sales are prohibited within 300 feet of a church, school or any religious institution of assembly. Restaurants that do 70 percent of their sales in food are exempt, as are downtown establishments.

But some council members, most vocally Gary Schiff (Ward 9), have called that ordinance outdated and requested the city get rid of it.

In a recent staff report, the city’s Department of Regulatory Services recommended that the City Council do just that, except that it is not recommending changes to the school portion of the ordinance.

Recently, the City Council strengthened distance requirements from schools following an off-sale liquor license application for a liquor store was across the street from Jefferson Community School on South Hennepin. 

The city did a survey of other cities and their spacing requirements from churches. Denver, Portland and Washington D.C. do not have any requirements for bars. Chicago and St. Louis require only a 100-foot buffer. 

St. Paul, Austin, Baltimore, Dallas, Houston, Kansas City, Philadelphia and Phoenix have the same 300-foot requirements that Minneapolis has.

Los Angeles requires a 600-foot buffer.

So far in 2011, the city has handed out 27 temporary alcohol licenses to churches and religious institutions allowing them so serve alcohol at their own events.

The public hearing begins at 1:30 p.m. in City Hall.