In a unanimous vote, the Madison City Council voted to override Mayor Paul Soglin’s veto on a liquor license for Lotsa Stone Fired Pizza.
Soglin early this summer denied a liquor request for the pizzeria, which is slated to open Sept. 7 at 506 State St. Despite the breakdown of their sales being 95 percent food and 5 percent liquor, Soglin wrote in a veto message Aug. 8 that the city will not issue any new alcohol licenses until the retail study of Madison has been completed.
Revitalizing retail on State Street has remained an important issue for Soglin. With more chains opening up and down the historic street, he believes approving liquor licenses are not “conducive” to building a “friendly, neighborhood space.”
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“We’ve lost most of the 500 block to liquor,” Soglin said at Tuesday’s city council meeting. “There is a proliferation of liquor licenses. It’s not a right, but a privilege on State Street.”
Along with the loss of retail, Soglin expressed a concern for the “social issues” of having so many liquor establishments on State Street. He estimated extra police efforts on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights will cost the Madison Police Department up to $500,000 dollars.
Despite his arguments for the veto, the council voted to approve Lotsa’s liquor license.
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The council also approved a measure to allow for early absentee voting in the City of Madison. City clerk Maribeth Witzel-Behl said the city anticipates to start early absentee voting Sept. 26.
This election cycle will be the earliest the city has ever been able to issue absentee ballots, she added. To accommodate for the large amount of anticipated out-of-state student voters, Greg Mickells, library director at Madison Public Library said the facility will offer early absentee voting polling stations.
Several residents also spoke out in opposition of the ban on panhandling ordinance. One resident found it “ridiculous” that the city is trying to “fine poor people for asking for money.”
Soglin defended his ordinance by pointing to the number of individuals who have been hit and frequently killed in the medians.
“If people are not going to look out for their own safety, we have to protect individuals who don’t know any better,” Soglin said.
The council moved to vote on the measure in a later meeting.