Government & Politics

Maryville repeals ordinance raising age to enter bars to 21

After two years of debate and three votes, Maryville officials have decided to allow 19- and 20-year-olds into the city’s bars, with several restrictions.

The Maryville City Council voted Monday to repeal an ordinance passed in January that would have raised the age to enter the city’s bars to 21, beginning July 1. That decision was controversial, particularly among students at Northwest Missouri State University.

Under the ordinance passed Monday, bar owners will be able to decide whether to admit 19- and 20-year-olds and will be required to try to prevent the younger patrons from drinking, the Maryville Daily Forum reported.

The council on Monday also rejected giving police broader powers to break up “house parties” on private property and a measure that would have prohibited possession of an open container of alcohol in public places. The three ordinances had been proposed as part of a comprehensive policy to combat underage drinking inside the city limits.

The council first voted in June 2013 to keep the age 19 standard, which was first enacted in the mid-1990s. But in municipal elections in April, voters chose two council candidates, Tim Shipley and Rachael Martin, who said during the campaign that they didn’t support the change to age 21. They joined Mayor Renee Riedel on Monday in voting to repeal the ordinance.

Councilmen Glenn Jonagan and Jeff Funston, who both opposed repealing the ordinance, did not attend Monday’s meeting.

Riedel said in a prepared statement that the new council members deserved a chance to vote on alcohol policies that would be in force while they served on the council. She declined to say why Jonagan and Funston were not at the meeting.