City set to broaden downtown alcohol sales regulations

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By Patrick Yost

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The Madison Planning and Zoning Commission approved two text amendment requests from the city of Madison that will ease restrictions on alcohol sales for businesses and non–profit groups in a designated “Arts and Entertainment Overlay District.”

The district primarily encompasses the business district of downtown Madison.

According to Senior Planner Monica Callahan, the city’s request comes, in part, because a new business, Board and Brush on East Jefferson Street, requested the ability to serve alcohol as patrons create arts and crafts.

Currently, Callahan said, serving alcohol in a business during business hours is against the law.

“This is not something you can do in this community unless you are a restaurant or a caterer,” she told the commission.

The first amendment establishes and Art and Entertainment Overlay District that will allow businesses like Board and Brush to acquire an annual pouring license and sell beer and wine during business operations. The license limits to two drinks per customer, Callahan said. “It’s not an unlimited pouring license like a restaurant.” The amendment also forces a 10 percent cap on annual revenue a business can receive from alcohol sales.

The city, Callahan told the planning commission was “aiming for the smallest broadening of the law as possible.”

The second text amendment will allow for businesses in a much wider geographical boundary to apply for a “for profit special event pouring license.” That district basically encompasses the city’s central business tax district. The “for profit special event pouring license” would allow a business in the broader district to purchase a special event license six times a year.

However, according to the the text application, the businesses have to meet one of five categories to receive the license.

Those categories, according to the request are:

1. “Performing Arts Facilities and Theatres, specifically excluding any Adult Entertainment as defined with the Code of Ordinances…

2. Art Galleries, Art Studios, and Craftsman Studios, offering art shows, exhibitions, etc.

3. Arts/Craft/Hobby Shops, Book Stores, Culinary Kitchen Shjops, Fabric Shops,, and Music Shops, during individual instruction, classes and group activities.

4. Salons and Spas.

5. Dessert Shops.

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