Forum Center, 5/1/12

Dayton Bars Face Loss of Liquor License

The State of Ohio controls the issuance of liquor permits through the Ohio Department of Liquor Control. Any business wanting to sell alcohol first must apply to this state agency. If a license is granted, this same agency has the power to revoke the license.

Every year, each permit-holder is required to file a request for renewal of their permit. The permits to sell alcoholic beverages in the western division of Ohio expire on June 1, 2012. Ohio Revised Code Section 4303.271(B) provides the legislative authority in which the bar, carryout or restaurant is located, with the right to object to the renewal of a permit and to request a hearing. The hearing may be held in the county seat of the county in which the permit premises is located

To register a valid objection with this Division and obtain a hearing, the legislative authority must pass a resolution that specifies the reason for objecting. For example, a legislative authority could object for any of the following reasons: too many fights, too many police calls, loud patrons leaving the bar and disrupting the local neighborhood and lewd behavior. The reasons for the objection must be based upon the grounds set forth in Ohio Revised Code Section 4303.292(A). The Chief Legal Officer of the political subdivision must also submit a statement with the resolution that, in the Chief Legal Officer’s opinion, the objection is based upon substantial legal grounds within the meaning and intent of Ohio Revised Code Section 4303.292(A).

In the Dayton area, six permit holders were notified that the renewal of their permits was being challenged. Objections have been filed against the following permits: Loch Nez at 752 E. Huffman Ave, Dayton, Envy Lounge at 212 S. Ludlow St., Dayton, Hammerjax at 111 E. Fourth St., Dayton, Nathans at 3219 Delphos Ave., Dayton, JPS at 514 N. Gettysburg Ave., Dayton and Food City at 1829 Germantown St., Dayton. Based upon recommendations from the police and community, the Dayton City Commission voted to object to the renewal of these six permit holders.

The owner of Hammerjax has argued that the police did not give an accurate portrayal of events that have taken place at his downtown nightclub. He stated that while at Hammerjax, the patrons were well behaved and respectful.  He argued that if they misbehaved after leaving his club, it was not something for which Hammerjax should be held responsible. City officials have disagreed and are attempting to take away Hammerjax’s permit.

Without a liquor permit, nightclubs like Hammerjax would lose a major source of their cash flow and would find it almost impossible to stay in business.  The owners of these establishments have thousands of dollars tied up in their investment. Individual permit holders can see their fortunes wiped out by the actions of a few drunken patrons.  There is also the consideration that the state receives millions of dollars from its permit holders in the form of fees and sales tax from the sale of alcohol.  The state walks a delicate balance between protecting its citizens from rowdy bars and promoting and protecting legitimate businesses that provide tax dollars to the state.

Debate Forum Question of the Week:
Is the Dayton City Commission’s decision to object to the renewal of Hammerjax’s liquor permit an infringement on the autonomy of the ownership and management of Hammerjax?

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