New Tapa La Luna Owners Were Issued a “Conditional” Liquor License

Thanks to Mac McIntyre of DeKalb County Online for capturing video highlights of yesterday’s City of DeKalb news conference — wherein we discover that the new Tapalaluna owners were issued a “conditional” liquor license so they could get state licensing and order supplies in preparation for a Valentine’s Day opening; and that the mayor (aka liquor commissioner) essentially will be asking for city council permission Monday night after the fact, by means of approval of a development agreement.

A. In addition to any and all other requirements set forth in this Chapter, an applicant for a Class A-[Central Business District] license shall be required to submit to the City an Application for Development Agreement, as defined herein, accompanied by a non-refundable Development Application fee of Five Hundred Dollars ($500.00). The Development Agreement shall be memorialized in writing and, if approved by the City Council, shall be submitted to the Liquor Commissioner for his review, approval and the issuance of the Class A-CBD liquor license, in the exercise of his discretion as Liquor Commissioner.

Key: IF the development agreement is approved by city council, THEN the license may be approved by the liquor commissioner.

Did you know there was provision for a “conditional” license in Chapter 38 of the Municipal Code that changes the order of the licensing process? Me neither, and I delved fairly deeply into liquor licensing for an earlier post on the subject. In fact, if there is such a thing I need somebody to point me to chapter and verse because I can’t find it.

And that’s just for starters.

If you read the earlier, highly fortuitous post [wink], you understand the basic steps, set by ordinance, for obtaining a liquor license in DeKalb:

1. Applicant turns in application with other required documentation and fees.

2. Chief of police investigates and makes a report.

3. Liquor commission reviews the application and report, and issues a recommendation.

4. Liquor commissioner makes a final decision to grant the license, and directs the city clerk to issue it.

Oops, that last part is wrong. And by the way, it’s also very weird. I have not been able to find any community, Home Rule or not, where the municipal clerk isn’t the officer issuing the liquor licenses. However, Section 38.10 says our clerk at least gets notified:

The Liquor Commissioner shall keep a complete record of all licenses issued by him; and shall furnish the City Clerk, Finance Director/Treasurer, and Chief of Police each with a copy thereof. Upon the issuance of any new license, or the revocation of any old license, the Liquor Commissioner shall give written notice of such action to each of these officers within 48 hours of such action.

Also:

38.04-1 INVESTIGATION OF LICENSE APPLICANT…No license shall be issued or reissued until such report has been completed and filed with the Liquor Commissioner.

So, here are the questions:

— Where in Chapter 38 is there provision for a “conditional” liquor license?

— Does it say “conditional license” on the license?

— What other establishments have obtained “conditional licenses” in, say, the past five years?

— When was the application made, and when was the license issued?

— Was an investigative report completed and filed?

— Has the Liquor Commission looked at this application and made a recommendation?

— Did the city clerk receive a copy of the license within the deadline?

I submitted a FOIA request this morning to help answer some of these questions.

As for the city council putting its seal of approval on the process via the development agreement, I think this body must first determine if “conditional” means that state and local laws were followed or not, and if not what the legal implications might be.