Reynoldsburg councilman opposes issuance of two liquor permits

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By Dustin Ensinger
Staff Writer

Despite the objections of one member, Reynoldsburg City Council’s service committee on July 6 recommended two measures to issue liquor permits to businesses.

Councilman Cornelius McGrady made motions to formally object the requests for liquor permits – one at a Save-A-Lot planned for the site that formerly hosted Big Bear at 6308 E. Livingston Ave.; and the other at the existing Days Inn hotel’s Eastside Sports Bar at 2100 Brice Road – but both motions died for a lack of a second and were moved to council for consideration.

McGrady opposed the request for a liquor license at the Eastside Sports Bar because of arrests in the past year he suspects are tied to alleged human trafficking operations, an issue he has been an public advocate against.

After hearing from McGrady, Councilman Barth Cotner said, “That seems to worry me a bit.” However, he did not second McGrady’s motion to oppose the measure.

Police Chief Jim O’Neill said, “There’s a level of criminal activity that takes place in that area,” but said his department did not have a reason to formally reject the request under Ohio law.

City Attorney Jeb Hood said Reynoldsburg had formally opposed a similar request in the past under a different ownership group, but it was unsuccessful in its bid to stop the permit from being issued.

“I thought we had good and convincing evidence,” Hood said.

McGrady was also unsuccessful in his bid to prevent the issuance of a liquor license for beer sales at a planned Sav-A-Lot, saying there are already seven businesses holding liquor permits in the area.

O’Neill said of the grocery store chain’s record, “Their liquor permits are pretty much spotless throughout the state of Ohio.”

Police staffing

Council will consider a measure to temporarily add a command position in the police department as the safety committee approved a measure to allow the city to add a third lieutenant position.

The city typically staffs the police department with two lieutenants. However, one of those positions is currently held by Lt. Scott McKinley, who has been on leave for several years serving as a captain in the United States Coast Guard. He plans to return once his service is over and officially retire.

O’Neill said with just one lieutenant, additional duties have fallen on others.

“This has been a thing we’ve been able to work through for the most part,” O’Neill said, adding, “We’re treading water when we could be moving forward.”

If the additional command position is allowed by council, it will be dissolved upon McKinley’s retirement, O’Neill said.

The new position would also allow a sergeant to be promoted to lieutenant; an officer to be promoted to sergeant; and a new officer to be hired, according to O’Neill. He said the move would save the city about $30,000 in the first year, due to the lower pay for the new officer to replace the newly promoted sergeant.

Council will consider the measure as emergency legislation after its second reading in an effort to pass it before it convenes for its August recess.

Livingston Avenue improvements

Council is considering a measure to hire engineering firm EMH&T to oversee an Ohio Public Works Commission funded project to improve Livingston Avenue.

The $177,000 contract will allow the engineering firm to design and bid the $3.8 million project. The city will be reimbursed for its costs paid to EMH&T.

Council will consider the legislation for passage on its second reading at its July 27 meeting.

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