CARBONDALE — The Liquor Advisory Board in Carbondale discussed its future role as the City Council is considering the idea of changing the process of how liquor license applications are approved.
The advisory board formed a consensus Thursday night to recommend to the council that it doesn’t have to sit as a body with an applicant present when reviewing liquor license applications.
The current process requires the applicant to fill out an application, questionnaire, submit a background check and fees by the 20th of the month to be considered for the next Liquor Advisory Board meeting, which is the first Thursday of the month, as long as it's not a holiday.
After the advisory board meeting, applications are then considered by the Local Liquor Control Commission, which is made up of the same members of the City Council. The process typically takes about two months.
The board came up with an idea to give applicants the option to sit before the advisory board if they would like it reviewed by somebody else before going before the council. Advisory Board Commissioner Mark Robinson said the process could help an applicant who isn’t sure they filled the application out correctly and could use advice.
Ideas included having just one person — the mayor — rule on all liquor license applications; having the mayor and a deputy commissioner rule on applications; having multiple commissioners, but not the full council; or keep it as-is, with the entire City Council ruling on the applications.
There seemed to be a consensus at the Jan. 24 council meeting that the process could be quicker if the council reviewed applications itself without sending applicants through the advisory board. The advisory board would still exist, with its function to gather information and comments from the public and relay that information to the council about new types of liquor licenses, elimination of licenses or proposed policy about liquor laws.
“We really need to speed the liquor process up,” Councilman Adam Loos said at the meeting. “There are a lot of restaurants that can’t survive without it, and I don’t see a reason to throw roadblocks up in their place.”
Although the board made its recommendation Thursday, the code doesn't actually change until the City Council votes on the process at a council meeting. The next meeting is scheduled for 6 p.m., Tuesday, Feb. 13.
This is the first step of an overhaul of the city's liquor code. According to City Manager Gary Williams, the city will look at the code one chapter at a time. The advisory board will provide insight and comments during the process.