Harrisburg City Council adopted a changed liquor ordinance during Monday night’s meeting.
There was a sizable crowd hoping to speak, but Mayor Eric Gregg said as no one had formally asked to be on the agenda in the 48 hours prior to the meeting date, he would be entertaining no comments prior to the council’s votes.
Gregg, as Harrisburg’s liquor control commissioner, said the new ordinance involved compromise. He had earlier suggested liquor sale hours beginning at 10 a.m., but proposed keeping the former opening hours at 9 a.m. to accommodate those leaving in the morning for outings who may want to take along alcohol.
The hours adopted for sale of alcohol are noon to 7 p.m. Sunday, 9 a.m. to midnight Monday through Thursday and 9 a.m. to 1 a.m. Friday into Saturday and Saturday into Sunday. The Friday and Saturday night hours also require all patrons to be off the premises by 1:30 a.m. Several violent altercations in the late after-midnight hours spurred council to act.
“That’s 16 hours of operation, I think that’s plenty of time for people to be in establishments and do whatever they want to do, that’s plenty of time of operation in this city. I hope this will help curb some of the problems we’ve been having, if it doesn’t, then we’ll deal with it and I’ll cut back the hours even more. I’m not just picking on, talking about, just one place, I have incident reports from several places. This is a problem we’re going to do away with in this city,” Gregg said.
Another change involves special days to remain open for additional hours.
“That will be under taken consideration. If there is an event going on I will certainly look at that. It will come to me and I will make the determination. That needs to come to me three or four weeks out and not a day or two out,” Gregg said.
Several bar owners left the meeting disappointed they had not been afforded the opportunity to speak prior to the adoption of the ordinance. Gregg said after the meeting that he had permitted anyone who wished to speak to do so during the previous meeting of council even though none had filled out the request form 48 hours in advance. He said he believed council had heard the various opinions, had taken them into account, but wished to conduct the council’s business without hearing repetitive comments.
Former City Treasurer Charlie Will said he would like to ask a question of council prior to a vote on advertising for bids for the Veterans Drive water and sewer extension project, but Gregg said he would not honor comments.
Will said Tuesday morning he had intended to question the wisdom of paying what he understands is about $1 million — $350,000 for the sewer and water extension and $600,000 for paving — on a section of the city he says is in the flood plain rather than improving the new corridor of the Bill Franks Way/state Route 13 Connector.
Will said he also wants to know if council intends to spend tax increment money on that project and if so, he believes it is improper to do so.
Michael Shaw said he had intended to draw council’s attention to an altercation he had at a local bar involving the same person who had attacked him previously, which he had before addressed council about. He believes battery charges are not being prosecuted aggressively enough to act as a deterrent to bar fights.
During the meeting, council honored the Christian Community Compassion Center as citizen of the month presenting an award to Art Foster, Mary Reed, Norma Gibbs and Don Nalley. The CCCC provides a food pantry, Helping Hands that aids with rent, utility and medical payments and the homeless shelter.