Enforcement of existing city code favored by committee
BY KEVIN BONESKE
Rhinelander’s Protection of Persons and Property Committee favors using the existing city code to deny liquor license renewals at premises that don’t pass inspections.
Rhinelander fire chief Terry Williams, who is also the city’s building inspector, informed the committee at Tuesday’s meeting that legal advice from city attorney Carrie Miljevich “seemed like it is permissible for a municipality to either provide notice of non-renewal, or suspend the license, for failing to conform to sanitary, safety and health requirements of the state, which would mean fire inspections.”
Committee chair Alex Young, who noted he also read the memo from Miljevich, said the city can do that as long as a licensee up for renewal is notified in writing.
“We basically have to give the licensee – if we’re going to pursue non-renewing their license because they haven’t met the inspection requirements – I think we have to give them a written notice and an opportunity for a hearing to follow that procedure,” Young said.
“That is super easy for us to do, if I know that is the path that this committee will take,” said Williams, who also noted that when annual liquor licenses in the city are renewed in bulk, he would be able to write letters to licensees who have not complied with safety inspections a month ahead of the renewal date and also notify the protection committee.
“If you want to support the fire department in that mission, I’ll keep you as notified as you want to be,” Williams further stated to committee members.
Committee member Dawn Rog suggested notifying liquor license holders of non-compliant inspection findings by April to give them plenty of advanced notice before the renewal date of their licenses on July 1.
“A lot of these places are leased, or the owner of the building might be different than the occupant, who has the license inside the building,” Rog said. “It kind of cleans it up that way, too, that somebody – either the person who has the contract for the building, if they’re responsible or the owner of the building is responsible – it gives everybody plenty of time to get it fixed.”
Young said the way the city ordinance is currently written makes it possible to deny renewing a liquor license for not passing an inspection of the premises.
“I suppose, theoretically, if we didn’t want to enforce this, we could come back and change it,” he said. “But, I think we should enforce the existing ordinance.”
“Awesome, thank you very much,” Williams said in response.
A provision in the city code related to liquor licenses and inspections of the premises states that an inspection is to determine “whether the applicant and premises sought to be licensed comply with the regulations, ordinances and laws applicable thereto” and that “no license shall be renewed without a reinspection of the premises.”