Owners of neighborhood bars and micro-breweries won big at Minneapolis City Hall Friday when council members voted to eliminate the rule that separates those businesses from churches by 300 feet.
The changes were strongly opposed by members of Saints Cyril and Methodius Catholic Church in Northeast Minneapolis who find themselves across the street from a planned micro-brewery.
“I’m beginning to feel a little like the Lone Ranger here,” said Council Member Diane Hofstede, who opposed dropping the 300-foot buffer zone. Hofstede represents a Northeast ward.
Council Member Gary Schiff pointed out that the buffer zone was established in the 1960s and requires restaurants within 300 feet of a church to make 70 percent of their money from the sale of food and only 30 percent form the sale of alcohol.
Schiff said there are currently no restaurants serving alcohol in Minneapolis within 300 feet of a church, except those downtown, because the 70/30 rule makes it difficult for them to compete.
The 300-foot law has “created a series of vacant buildings near churches,” said Schiff, who added that the planned micro-brewery across from the church will only have an off-sale license and will be closed on Sunday.
“You don’t go there to pick up chicks,” said Council Member Don Samuels, who voted against removing the buffer zone in committee but changed his mind on the topic after more study. “It’s not going to be that kind of crowd.”
The move will allow Rob Miller to move ahead with plans to open Dangerous Man Brewing, a micro-brewery near Saints Cyril and Methodius Catholic Church. It will also allow neighborhood restaurants within 300 feet of a church to serve alcohol but on a 60-percent food and 40-percent alcohol formula.
The hiring of Gregory Stubbs as director of the Department of Regulatory Services was approved by council members effective Nov. 28 with a two-year term beginning in January. Stubbs comes from a job as director of Growth and Resource Management in Volusia County, Fla.
“This is someone who is a seasoned manager,” said Council Member Elizabeth Glidden, who added that Stubbs comes with strong support from labor.
“You know, there’s dedication when you move from Florida to Minneapolis,” said Council Member Betsy Hodges.
The reconstruction of Nicollet Mall will be the city’s No. 1 bonding request during the 2012 legislative session. The city will be asking for $25 million to upgrade the mall. There was no bonding bill during the 2011 session. Also on the request for the bonding list:
• Target Center upgrades and repairs at $8 million.
• 10th Avenue Bridge repairs at $7.6 million.
• Rebuilding Grainary Road near the new research facilities at the University of Minnesota at $5.3 million.
• Storm tunnel repairs for 35W at $4 million.
• Repairs to Pioneers and Soldiers Cemetery at $2.6 million.
A previous request for bonding to improve parkway lighting has been dropped from the city agenda for now. The bonding request decisions were made during a Committee of the Whole meeting earlier in the week.