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'Is it really necessary': Aldermen seek to lift 27-year-old liquor license restriction

A 1997 moratorium set a limit on the number of liquor licensed establishments
Posted at 6:17 PM, Jan 25, 2024
and last updated 2024-01-25 19:17:03-05

GREEN BAY (NBC26) — A 27-year liquor license moratorium impacting bars and restaurants in the Broadway District, parts of Washington Street and the Olde Main Street Business District, is close to being lifted, which could bring more bars and restaurants to the area, one alderperson said.

  • The 1997 moratorium caps the number of liquor licensed establishments to 172, which the city has already reached
  • Alder Randy Scannell (District 7) said the moratorium was a result of increased incidents at local bar
  • The repeal of the moratorium awaits Common Council approval
  • The next meeting is on Feb. 6

(The following is a transcription of the full broadcast story)

For almost 30 years, Green Bay has had a tight restriction on the number of liquor licenses and the approval process of them.

"Is it really necessary," District 7 Alderman, Randy Scannell, said. "It's a lot of hoops for a business to go through and for what?"

Aldermen Randy Scannell and Brian Johnson, who is also the executive director of OnBroadway, introduced the proposal to repeal the 27-year moratorium during Monday's Protection and Policy Committee meeting, which was approved unanimously.

"When I was a kid, you could look down the street and there's a couple taverns down there and there were mostly police cars there," Leonhard said. "Half of the time there was a rescue squad because of a fight."

Marty Leonhard of Lenny's Tap on Broadway Avenue said incidents that required police presence in the area used to be frequent.

Through it all, Lenny's Tap has been open since 1905 and owned by his family since 1975.

"Prior to COVID-19, we had been open 16,322 consecutive days," Leonhard said.

In 1997, the city council capped the number class "B" beer and class "B" liquor licensed establishments in Green Bay at 172, which the city has reached.

One city official tells me that there's an extra 32 class "B" beer and class "B" liquor licenses available called reserve licenses.

However, if a business were to obtain one, they must pay a $10,000 issuance fee and the license cannot be transferred.

"Regulations should serve a purpose, and [the moratorium] served its purpose so now we can deregulate," Scannell said.

Alder Scannell says the moratorium has helped the area recover and now says there's no need for liquor license limits.

He says the area could see more bars and restaurants as a result, which Leonhard is a fan of.

"They don't want to be us and we don't want to be them, but there are still places for everybody," Leonhard said.

Now the repeal awaits common council approval. It will be addressed during the next meeting on Feb. 6.