Council advances 2 a.m. last call on second reading

Thursday, August 24, 2017

McCOOK, Neb. — City leaders advanced a measure earlier this week that will allow McCook bars to serve alcohol until 2 a.m., extending the permissible time an additional hour.

The McCook City Council unanimously approved the ordinance on second reading, with third and final reading likely considered during the Sept. 4 regularly scheduled meeting.

Opposition to the change has been nonexistent during the first two readings, save for a letter from a national advocacy group sent to city staff. Chief of Police Isaac Brown also reached out to other Nebraska communities that had passed similar measures and found their experiences yielded few negative results.

“What we found, to my surprise, was that they’ve had very little impact in the cities that have implemented the 2 a.m. closing time. They simply have not made a great deal of difference,” he said during a July meeting.

“By and large they’ve not noticed a negative impact from staying open until 2 a.m.,” he added.

The changes will extend on-site alcohol sales only. Package liquor sales will continue to end at 1 a.m.

McCook alcoholic liquor sales, including beer and wine, are allowed from 6 a.m. to 1 a.m. currently, with Sunday liquor sales from noon to 1 a.m.

City leaders indicated previously they hoped the extended hours provided an economic boost to local business.

Other activity Monday evening:

* A request from B&S Properties LLC to relocate the city water line running from West H Street to the New Frontier Ag building on U.S. Highway 83 was approved. The line relocation was found to be necessary as part of an adjacent construction project erecting a new Holiday Inn Express. The request was approved without discussion as part of the consent agenda.

* Following a public hearing discussion, City Council unanimously approved a special exception allowing an offshoot of McCook’s Burns Laboratory to operate a podiatry lab within the American Ag Labs building. The operation is anticipated to utilize approximately 20 percent of the building. American Ag Labs owner Kevin Grooms was among supporters speaking on behalf of the special exception request and said the two businesses would make good neighbors.

City Council approved the request while emphasizing the lab abide by city noise ordinance.

* A request from the American Legion to use the former City Council Chambers in Memorial Auditorium for monthly meetings was discussed briefly. City Council asked legion representatives to discuss whether the $25 rental fee would fit into their budget and planned to return the topic as an action item in the near future.

City staff indicated the room has not been rented out since council chambers were relocated to the Municipal Center.

* An agreement allowing the Nebraska Department of Transportation to provide financial assistance for the City of McCook to purchase a new bus for the public transit system was approved.

The city plans to utilize $5,838 from ACE funds to provide its match to purchase the small passenger bus. The state is providing $46,704 in federal grant funding and $5,838 in state grant funds to cover the remaining expense of the purchase.

* Great Plains Communications was approved to occupy city right of way to install approximately 140 feet of underground fiber optic cable and coax along a portion of Spoon Drive.

The cable will be used to provide internet and phone service to potential customers south of the intersection at Spoon Drive and West J Street, according to the agenda.

* Schmick’s Market was granted a special liquor license for a wedding reception at Memorial Auditorium on Oct. 28.

* Loop Brewing Co. was granted a trio of special liquor licenses, including a wedding reception at Memorial Auditorium on Sept. 21; another on Sept. 2 in the 4H building on the Red Willow County Fairgrounds; and a third in the Community Building on the fairgrounds on Oct. 7.

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