The Kansas City Council, deciding that what was good for 18th & Vine was also good for the city's four other entertainment districts, voted Thursday to strip churches in those areas of the right to veto the licensing of businesses within 300 feet to serve alcohol.
The 12-0 vote followed last week's approval of an ordinance, sponsored by Councilman Jermaine Reed, to roll back the church veto in the 18th & Vine District. Reed wanted to ease the way for new clubs and restaurants interested in leasing space in the struggling entertainment area. One of the four churches in the district opposed approval of new liquor licenses.
Councilman Quinton Lucas attempted to amend Reed's ordinance by lifting the veto for churches in Westport, the Plaza, Zona Rosa and downtown. The amendment failed on a 7-6 vote, and Lucas' proposal was assigned to committee for further consideration.
But another opening for the measure came Thursday. The city attorney's office said the Reed ordinance had to be called up again to clean up several technical errors. This created an opportunity for Lucas, who again moved to amend it by waiving the veto for all entertainment-area churches.
"Very simply, what this amendment does is create consistency in the five entertainment districts," he said.
Reed said Lucas' proposal needed more public discussion, and that he'd heard concerns expressed by clergy in some of the other entertainment areas.
"I do think we should allow those voices to be heard," Reed said.
The debate also hinted at ongoing tensions between the two Third District council members, one (Reed) an announced mayoral candidate and the other (Lucas) seriously considering the race. Reed expressed irritation that Lucas hadn't tried to work with him before proposing the amendment.
"It's a bit unfortunate that Councilman Lucas has not had any conversations with me about this matter," Reed said.
Lucas said after the meeting that he'd had extensive consultations with Reed.
"I proposed the amendment today to the sponsor in committee several weeks ago, last week, and have discussed my perspective one-on-one," he said in a text message.
Council members, having had a week to think about it and to discover that opposition was minimal, were more receptive to the Lucas measure.
Despite his objections, Reed voted for his amended bill.