Downtown area sees ordinance changes: Open intoxicants to be allowed on certain days
By Taylor J. Hale
STEVENS POINT – City leaders have approved two ordinance amendments and a new resolution that will change how visitors can enjoy the city’s many downtown amenities.
The changes came during a June 15 common council meeting. The shift will allow locals to shop at new parklet (sidewalk extension) spaces, enjoy outdoor cafes without fencing, and enjoy a meal and alcoholic beverages freely in the downtown corridor to Pfiffner Pioneer Park.
Central Business District Sidewalk Café Licenses Amendment
Council members passed a resolution that drops the need for existing parklets and sidewalk cafes to put out fencing around their outdoor seating.
Former ordinances saw shop owners needing to bring out temporary fencing to allow customers to enjoy outside dining or shopping in the downtown area. The changes only apply to shops that currently or will have a sidewalk cafe license.
The amendment was rolled out with a new resolution that will relax open intoxicant laws in the downtown area to allow visitors to traverse the downtown area with alcoholic drinks on certain days of the week.
“I think the times have changed enough where we can try it without that boundary,” Mayor Mike Wiza said about removing fencing from the license agreement. The amendment was passed unanimously.
Officials approved an ordinance that would allow local shops to utilize municipal parking spaces to set up outdoor service, seating, and sales areas for local businesses. The temporary ordinance change will terminate one year after its publication date – slated for June 20.
Handicap spots would be prohibited from being utilized as a parklet space.
The changes will allow shops without store parking a chance to take to the streets to enable patrons to browse their goods and services outdoors.
For more information on utilizing the extended parklet options, contact the mayor’s office at 715-346-1570.
Open Intoxicant Ordinance Relaxation
A resolution was approved by council members that will relax open intoxicant carrying laws in a designated area downtown. The changes allow locals to buy a drink at a bar or restaurant and carry it anywhere in the boundary area.
The resolution passed 9-1. Alder Tori Jennings voted against the decision, stating she felt the focus shifted from “creating public spaces” and simply on to “drinking” in the downtown corridor.
“Now we just seem to be going back to the good old days of making downtown a big pub-mall,” Jennings said, criticizing the resolution.
The set boundaries stretch roughly from Strongs Avenue to Water Street and the sidewalk along Center Point Drive. A walkway to Pfiffner Park will also be included.
The new intoxicant laws would exclude any drinks in a glass bottle or can, only plastic cups provided will be allowed.
Wiza noted that the purpose of the resolution was to help downtown business owners maintain clientele, not encourage locals to bring their own drinks downtown.
The changes will only be in effect on Wednesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays from noon – 9 p.m. until Oct. 16.
Mayor Mike Wiza noted that business owners and residents living in the boundary area and the surrounding 200 feet were sent letters informing them of the possible changes last week.
The resolution can be terminated via a special common council meeting if problems arise during the coming months. All changes are scheduled to take effect on June 20.