Madison City Council voted to reject a moratorium on the issuance of new alcohol licenses and the establishment of a Task Force on Downtown Violence Tuesday night.
This moratorium, proposed by Mayor Paul Soglin, would ban the issuing of new alcohol licenses in the Madison campus area. The council rejected the moratorium to pursue research that will identify issues of “excessive alcohol consumption [that] lead to disproportionate calls for service.”
Owner of Madison business A Room of One’s Own, Sandy Torkildson, voiced her support for the moratorium because she wanted to keep a balance between retail day-time businesses and evening entertainment venues.
“There’s been reports done in Norway, California, New Jersey [and] Boston on the evidence of increased problems related to the density of alcohol establishments in an area,” Torkildson said.
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Finance Director of the City of Madison David Schmiedicke overviewed what the department is currently doing and what they plan to be doing with their citywide alcohol density outlet analysis.
Schmiedicke said there currently is a staff team gathering the necessary data to understand the level of density.
“Some of the things [the staff team] is working on now currently resides in building inspection,” Schmiedicke said. “In terms of the capacity of some of these establishments, you can really understand and get a sense of the baseline data and find what the impacts are and work towards what some of those service impacts in those areas might have.”
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Schmiedicke said the team is attempting to gather good data for all establishments that correlate to the alcohol licenses and will be providing a report on the data that’s available over the next few months.
Ald. Mike Verveer, District 4, said the council is taking input from stakeholders and urged his council to support the substitute resolution.
“There is a moratorium that does cover some blocks of the campus entertainment district, that as some of you know is due to sunset next summer,” Verveer said. “So this is an issue that will be front and center before this council — whether or not to allow the existing moratorium to sunset or to expand it, change or amend it in any way.”
Verveer said he is looking forward to the results of the city-staff analysis.