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Saturday, April 19, 2014

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Council passes ordinance amending city alcohol regulations

An ordinance amending the regulations placed on East Lansing bars was passed by the city council Tuesday evening after nearly a year of discussions and attempts to fix perceived issues with downtown nightlife.

Under the plan, restaurants that have been open for two years, have fewer than 150 seats and serve lunch at least five days out of the week would be able to serve 60 percent alcohol and 40 percent food.

The 50/50 rule still would apply to businesses that do not meet those qualifications. Many East Lansing establishments were grandfathered into not having to abide by the 50/50 rule, including Rick’s American Cafe, The Riv, Peanut Barrel and P.T. O’Malley’s.

The ordinance also would place enforcement of the 50/50 rule on police, allowing them to issue citations to businesses not maintaining at least half of their sales from food products.

East Lansing City Manager George Lahanas said a priority of the ordinance is to increase the diversity of restaurant options.

“We believe that perhaps (East Lansing) is too heavily weighed toward the later-night crowd,” Lahanas said. “We want to encourage people to look at the fine dining options.”

The ordinance no longer includes a proposal brought forward by city staff to reduce the number of bars with a seating cap on businesses serving alcohol past midnight. That aspect of the plan was shot down by the East Lansing Planning Commission in November.

Several council members said further revisions to alcohol regulations in the city should be discussed, particularly in the wake of the chaos following MSU’s recent Big Ten Championship win. The topic is set to come up again in a work session on Jan. 28.

Council also approved a request from DTN Management Co. to give the company 60 additional days to submit further planning for the Park District project.

At council’s last work session, DTN presented a proposal for the area that included a restaurant, a 120-room hotel, 400 apartment rooms, 900 parking spaces and one residential building.

DTN will have until Feb. 28 to submit the site and financial plans.

During the meeting, Councilmember Ruth Beier said she continues to have concerns regarding traffic in the area post-redevelopment.

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