City Council Minutes

Thursday, February 24,2000



ST. GEORGE CITY COUNCIL MINUTES WORK MEETING FEBRUARY 24, 2000, 4:00 P.M. ADMINISTRATION CONFERENCE ROOM PRESENT: Mayor Daniel McArthur Councilmember Rod Orton Councilmember Suzanne Allen Councilmember Bob Whatcott Councilmember Larry Gardner City Manager Gary Esplin City Attorney Jonathan Wright City Recorder Gay Cragun EXCUSED: Councilmember Sharon Isom OPENING: Mayor McArthur called the meeting to order and offered the invocation. He invited a Scout to introduce himself. DISCUSSION RE AVAILABILITY OF PRIVATE CLUB LICENSE: City Manager Gary Esplin advised under the City?s current ordinance, now that the population has reached 45,000, one additional private club license is available, if the Council chooses to issue it. The issuance of this license is not mandatory, however, and is solely at the discretion of the City Council if they determine a need for it. Notice of availability of the license was published in the newspaper and two applications have been received by the City. The applicants are the Swensen family, and Basila and John Graham and Gary Kuhlmann. Both private clubs are proposed to be located in Ancestor Square - one in the tower, and the other above Basila?s restaurant. Two other private clubs currently operate in St. George - the Elks Lodge, and the Bloomington Country Club. Councilmember Gardner inquired if alcohol was not already reasonably accessible to people in the community. He advised it was his understanding the Council previously decided to issue restaurant liquor licenses rather than private club licenses because more control could be had in the restaurant setting. He stated he was hesitant to approve any more private club licenses. Mayor McArthur advised the City has previously had many calls for service at a private club which is now out of business. Anyone could become a ?member? of the private club by paying a nominal fee to enter, and it was not truly a ?private club.? The City also received many complaints about the operation of this private club. Brooks Pace advised that management and control is the issue, and there is no association between the Swensens? private club and any others. He advised private clubs are highly audited by the Liquor Commission, and the elements of control are much higher than for a restaurant liquor license. The primary purpose of a private club is to serve alcohol. Councilmember Gardner advised the reason he preferred restaurant liquor licenses over private club licenses was because he understood the sale of alcohol could only be a certain portion of the total bill in a restaurant. City Attorney Jonathan Wright advised this was incorrect, and that the restaurant?s revenues have to be 60-70% from food, not individual tickets. Brooks Pace advised that smoking is prohibited in the tower building, as are intoxicated persons. The private club will be subject to monthly audits by the Liquor Commission, and will be a highly controlled establishment. Mr. Swensen advised that temporary 14 day memberships will be issued at a cost of $5.00. Before permanent memberships are issued, they will be reviewed by the board of trustees. Cost of a permanent membership will be $20.00 yearly. Mr. Pace advised that membership or entrance will be denied for improper dress, intoxication, or for any other reason. Mr. Swensen advised there will not be any dancing, but music will be provided. Mayor McArthur advised that complaints about previous private clubs centered around activities in the parking lot, not necessarily inside the building. He inquired who would be controlling the activities of patrons outside the establishment. Mr. Swensen advised management employees will be trained to monitor this problem. The private club will also carry dram insurance. Brooks Pace explained the dram law places responsibility for intoxication on the person who sells the alcohol. Mr. Swensen advised he has worked with private clubs for 20 years on a professional level and understands them. City Manager Gary Esplin advised the purpose of the discussion was not to choose an applicant, but to determine if the City Council wanted to issue an additional private club license. If they did not, there was no reason to hear individual presentations. Mayor McArthur stated that in his opinion problems in the past with private clubs have not been demonstrated to have been taken care of. Greg Kemp advised he represented Brooks Pace. He advised he was concerned about drinking in restaurants in the presence of children. However, at the Country Club, a controlled environment, he has experienced no such problem. Mr. Pace advised that the City?s experience with private clubs in the 80's was not good because private clubs then catered to the dancing and drinking youth. The Swensens will cater to a more mature group, generally tourists and select clientele, and there is a need for such a private club. Councilmember Gardner commended Mr. Pace for the newly remodeled Ancestor Square, but stated he felt badly that in order to keep the revitalization, alcohol needed to be involved. Nevertheless, he would try to be open minded and save his final assessment until the applicants can show one redeeming value of alcohol in the community. He advised many issues remained that would impact the community, such as safety concerns. Mr. Swensen advised his private club would cater to persons age 35+. Hours will be from 3:00 p.m. to midnight, and the club will not be open during lunch hours. Gary Kuhlmann advised that he as much as anyone understands the problems associated with the Chapter 11 private club, and understands the way a private club needed to be handled. He advised there is a need in the community for another private club. He advised he could not show a benefit of having an alcohol establishment, but believed a properly run establishment would alleviate detriments, such as drunk drivers driving through St. George to or from Mesquite. Councilmember Orton inquired if current private club licensees were not presently meeting the needs of the community. Mr. Kuhlmann responded the Elks Lodge does not serve the community?s need because of the way it is operated , the bar area is dark and dingy, and is not a location to serve young adults. He advised he would like to provide a well run, upscale and clean facility to serve a mature crowd. Councilmember Orton commented he did not think St. George was lacking a private club, as he had not heard anyone say they could not find a place to drink in St. George. Greg Kemp advised it was impossible for tourists to find a place to sit down and relax and have a drink, other than in a restaurant. Councilmember Gardner stated he thought the City had done just that five years ago by making more restaurant liquor licenses available. He stated he was convinced alcohol does not provide a benefit to the community or society, and although he recognized there are some who choose to drink, he didn?t know how far the City had to go to accommodate the drinking community. Mr. Pace advised a distinction needed to be made between problem drinkers, and reiterated that alcoholics will not be allowed in the Swensens? private club. However, someone who has 1-2 drinks is not a danger, and drivers are usually designated. Morality cannot be legislated. Councilmember Orton advised he was not ready to decide if another private club liquor license should be made available. Councilmember Allen advised she did not see the need for another private club liquor license, but could understand the applicants? desire to do business. Councilmember Whatcott advised that if the City Council were to proceed, each application should be decided on its own merits. He stated he did not feel comfortable with a private club at which there is nothing else to do but serve drinks, while a restaurant at least provides meals. Mayor McArthur advised it appeared the City Council did not want to issue an additional private club license at this time. Councilmember Gardner advised he felt it was a safety factor for the community that all of society must deal with and he has come to believe in these principles, regardless of religion. Councilmember Gardner then left the meeting. City Manager Gary Esplin clarified that the request for a private club liquor license would not be scheduled on an agenda, and the request would not come again from staff. In order to be scheduled on an agenda, a request would have to come from a City Council member. Mr. Esplin suggested to the applicants that if they wished to pursue issuance of a license, they should prepare a packet of information for all City Council members, who could then instruct him to schedule the item on an agenda. Councilmember Orton suggested that staff visit with the Hotel Association and others in the community to get a feel for what the need is for another private club. Mayor McArthur invited another Scout to introduce himself. DISCUSSION WITH ST. GEORGE MUSICAL THEATER: Kristine Bennion, St. George Musical Theater, thanked the City Council for their support in the past, and advised they are an all-volunteer organization, sincere in their desire to provide a valuable service to the community, and would like to continue to work with the City in a partnership. She advised their banners are repeatedly being taken down at certain locations and thrown away at great expense to them, while other organizations are permitted to advertise in these same locations. Mayor McArthur advised the City is investigating the possibility of designating specific locations for banners and signs, and its sign program is being re-evaluated. Ms. Bennion requested that the St. George Musical Theater be designated as one of the organizations allowed to hang banners at certain locations. City Manager Gary Esplin advised the City has not given direction to any of its employees to pull down the signs belonging to St. George Musical Theater. However, the City?s Zoning Inspector and some parks personnel have removed illegal signs. Don Kenworthy advised that the City?s Zoning Inspector has admitted to pulling down signs belonging to St. George Musical Theater, and not others, stating the Kenworthys? are in the sign business and should know better. Gilbert Jennings advised he is the property owner at the corner of Bluff and Sunset, and signs have been a problem there. He advised he is ready to announce a major project there, and when the fence is removed, he is afraid he will have a proliferation of fence post signs on his property, and he does not want them. He advised he has spent years policing this problem, but is supportive of community events and the problem needs to be solved. City Manager Gary Esplin advised the City has identified four locations at which it would like to located community reader boards, but the State has denied all of them. Don Kenworthy reiterated the St. George Musical Theater would like to be an approved organization to locate banners at the fountain and other locations. City Manager Gary Esplin stated that the reason certain organizations are allowed to locate banners at the fountain area is because they contributed to its placement there. The Parade of Homes and Senior Games were approved because of their economic benefit to the community. If the City is going to open up this location and others to everyone, a full-time sign inspector will need to be hired for regulation. Kristine Bennion advised the St. George Musical Theater was organized under the umbrella of the City and thinks of itself as a City-sponsored organization. She asked for support from the City. Mayor McArthur replied the City does support the St. George Musical Theater, but the Opera House cannot be dedicated solely to its use. Leisure Services Director Kent Perkins advised the St. George Musical Theater received from the City a grant in the amount of $2,500 this year, $4,000 last year, and as a result of reduced rental and use fees at the Opera House, received a benefit valued at $22,000-$24,000. Building wear and year is another issue, and no figure is available on that. However, last year the City spent thousands of dollars refurbishing the Opera House. This amount is offset by $8,000 which the City charged the St. George Musical Theater last year for use of the facility. Don Kenworthy stated he thought the charges were reasonable. Dawna Kenworthy advised the St. George Musical Theater must do better than it has done in the past financially or it cannot continue. Councilmember Orton suggested that ticket prices be increased. Kent Perkins stated there is a need in the community and great interest for the St. George Musical Theater, and at present the Opera House happens to be the best possible place for their productions at this time, however, their use is being ?shoehorned? in, and this will only get worse as more interest continues to be generated in the community. Kristine Bennion advised the St. George Musical Theater still owes the City $5,300 for rent for last year, and asked what arrangements could be made for its payment or forgiveness. Mr. Kenworthy advised when he asked about the bill previously, he was told not to worry about it, so he bought microphones, speakers and risers with the rent money instead, as he thought the City was going to pick up the rent expense. He asked for forgiveness of the bill. Councilmember Allen advised she works with the Arts Commission and feels the City Council should support the St. George Musical Theater. She suggested ticket prices be raised. Councilmember Whatcott advised he was in favor of what the St. George Musical Theater was doing, but was disappointed to hear they did not feel the City Council supported them. He advised this was unfair. He stated that sports programs require an entry fee, and those who use the City?s golf courses are the ones who pay for them. He stated a happy medium must be found, as the City is already making a healthy donation to the St. George Musical Theater. Community Arts Director David Pursley suggested the Arts Commission give the St. George Musical Theater a $4,000 grant from next year?s budget, and they could use this money to pay the debt. It was the consensus of the City Council to forgive the debt. DISCUSSION CONCERNING PROPOSED BUILDING HEIGHT ORDINANCE: City Manager Gary Esplin advised building height issues have been raised in the downtown area, and direction is needed from the City Council. Community Development Director Bob Nicholson distributed an outline of building height regulations and proposed amendment to the City?s ordinance. He advised the City?s goal is to provide an ordinance that is simple and straightforward and free of vague criteria. City Attorney Jonathan Wright advised that the City must also look at land, air and space concerns, not just aesthetics, as far as the general welfare purpose of the ordinance. Mr. Nicholson advised the main weakness in the City?s ordinance is there is no criteria for evaluating requests. City Manager Gary Esplin advised the City Council must determine what it is trying to accomplish, i.e. keeping the center of town devoid of skyscrapers, etc. He advised St. George should protect the assets it has and prominent features of the community. Mayor McArthur stated that buildings which have received variances in the past for height are pleasant buildings and have not caused any problems. Carol Sapp advised that in surrounding areas of the City, it may be appropriate to allow higher buildings. Councilmember Orton cautioned the City against being too restrictive, and that an opportunity to revitalize the downtown cannot be so restrictive that business owners will leave and go elsewhere. He stated he liked the option of a conditional use permit. He suggested leaving the height limit at 35' as in the proposed ordinance and using conditional use permits for variations. Gilbert Jennings advised he will be requesting a conditional use permit to exceed the allowed height of a building in the downtown area, and sensitivity and consideration is required. He advised the proposed ordinance needed work to iron out the conflicts between staff. He advised it was difficult to lump all requirements into one pot and solve a problem. City Attorney Jonathan Wright advised that exceptions to the ordinance can be provided for in certain zones without a conditional use permit. Mr. Jennings stated he would like the proposed ordinance to help remove conflicts between staff members. He advised in his opinion he would prefer to see the ordinance remain at a 35' height limit and impose maximum heights. He recommended the City set the height limit at no more than four stories, and then not agonize over three or four feet. Community Development Director Bob Nicholson asked Council members to review Draft #4 and provide feedback. ADJOURN TO EXECUTIVE SESSION: A motion was made by Councilmember Allen to adjourn to an executive session to discuss land purchase and/or sales. The motion was seconded by Councilmember Orton, and all voted aye. RECONVENE AND ADJOURN: A motion to reconvene and adjourn was made by Councilmember Allen. The motion was seconded by Councilmember Whatcott, and all voted aye. _________________________________ Gay Cragun, City Recorder