Petitioners who oppose a new Kansas City liquor ordinance turned in thousands of signatures Saturday to try to force the measure’s repeal.
The group had already collected 2,186 valid signatures and needed 1,231 more to reach the referendum threshold set by the city charter. They turned in well over that — more than 3,400 — to City Clerk Marilyn Sanders on Saturday, the deadline for signature collection.
Attorney Patricia Jensen, who turned in the signatures, declined to comment. Sanders said she will forward the signatures Monday to local election authorities to verify the count.
At issue is an ordinance the City Council approved April 28. The ordinance changed the influence that certain property owners have over liquor license applications, limiting large property owners to no more than 10 percent of the consents within a 250-foot zone.
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Supporters said this gave neighborhoods and small businesses more of a voice in the granting of liquor applications. But while the referendum effort is pending, the ordinance is not in effect.
Recent applicants for liquor licenses, especially in the Crossroads Arts District, have complained that property owners with extensive holdings essentially have veto power over their liquor business plans.
Tom’s Town, a new distillery at 1701 Main St., said prominent property owner Brad Nicholson imposed unreasonable restrictions on its business before consenting to the distillery’s liquor application. That complaint and others prompted the council to change the consent rules.
Nicholson said the distillery misrepresented its business goals. He said he relented on several conditions to allow the business some flexibility. He and other residents who don’t want a proliferation of liquor establishments in the Crossroads are pushing for the council to repeal its April 28 action or put the repeal before a public vote on the November ballot.
If election authorities deem the number of signatures sufficient in the next week or so and the city clerk certifies the petitions, then the City Council must decide whether to repeal the ordinance on its own or put the issue before voters in November.