New district could bring more liquor licenses to London

(Posted May 26, 2021)

By Kristy Zurbrick, Madison Editor

London city council is considering legislation that could make more liquor licenses available to current and future restaurants, bars, and other eligible businesses in the city.

On May 20, council held the first reading for legislation that proposes to designate a portion of the city as a revitalization district.  State law permits one liquor license for every five acres in such a district.

The events leading up to the proposed legislation began with a request from Paul Gross, owner of Independence Way LLC. Gross is building an upscale restaurant and bar, as well as condominiums and apartments, along State Route 56 adjacent to the Bluebird Retirement Community.

Because liquor licenses are hard to come by in London and Gross wants to serve alcohol at the restaurant and bar, city officials looked into possible solutions. Initially, they considered the creation of a community entertainment district that would include Gross’s property, but they found it wasn’t a good fit, said council President Henry Comer.

So, city representatives, in partnership with the Madison County Chamber of Commerce, turned to Rep. Steve Stivers’s office, the Ohio Department of Commerce, and the Ohio Department of Liquor Control. From this collaboration came the suggestion to designate a revitalization district. Such districts are designed to improve entertainment, retail, educational, sporting, social, cultural, and arts opportunities in the community. They allow for one liquor permit for every five acres.

Gross submitted an application requesting creation of a revitalization district that encompassed his property. Members of the committee working on the districting idea were thinking bigger.

“My team wanted to see more of the city encompassed in the district,” said Mayor Patrick Closser.

After several meetings and a lot of research, the committee came up with a broader outline for the district that includes many of the business areas in the city.

“That was awesome when we were able to find out that you could actually include the whole area,” Comer said, describing the proposed district as including the area from State Route 56 in front of Madison Lanes and Gross’s property, to Center Street, out State Route 38 past the Madison County Fairgrounds to St. Patrick School, and down Lafayette Street to Family Dollar.

Gross resubmitted his request with the new district boundaries. Council will hold additional readings of the proposed legislation to designate the revitalization district at upcoming council meetings. A public hearing on Gross’s application is set for July 1.

“We all think this is going to be a great catalyst for businesses in London,” Closser said. “We’re excited for what this district is going to be able to do and help with our planned growth.”

Comer thanked the city, county and state leaders who helped with brainstorming and research to bring the proposal forward.

“Everyone’s on the same page to make sure the city is moving forward,” he said. “This definitely opens things up compared to what we currently have.”

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