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Paynesville Press - October 15, 2003

City of Paynesville to allow later bar closing time

By Michael Jacobson

The Paynesville City Council voted last week to allow 2 a.m. bar closings within the city.

The Minnesota Legislature approved allowing a later bar closing time during its 2003 session, giving cities and counties the option of permitting later bar closings.

Doris Wendlandt, owner of Queen Bee's Bar and Grill, first approached the city council last month about allowing 2 a.m. bar closings.

The city referred the matter to a committee comprised of council member Harlan Beek, city administrator Steve Helget, and police chief Kent Kortlever. They met with Wendlandt and discussed possible effects of the later bar closing time.

The committee did not make a recommendation either way to the council, neither for nor against a later closing time. It did, however, raise two issues: the city's downtown parking ordinance and daylight savings time.

The city prohibits parking on downtown streets from 2 to 6 a.m., with bars currently closing at 1 a.m. and everyone needing to be out the door by 1:30 a.m. With bar closing at 2 a.m., that parking ban would need to change to 3 to 6 a.m.

Also, in the fall when daylight savings time elapses, bar closing would remain at 2 a.m., with the extra hour not affecting closing time, the committee recommended.

Another concern was snowplowing, which starts in the downtown area between 1 and 2 a.m. as needed, said public works director Ron Mergen. But city staff can organize their plowing to allow for cars on the streets later into the night.

The city council voted 4-1 to allow the later bar closing time, with Mayor Jeff Thompson and council members Beek, Dave Peschong, and Jean Soine voting in favor, and council member Dennis Zimmerman voting against.

The change does not take effect immediately. The city still needs to formally change both its city ordinance and its parking ordinance. The new bar closing time will not take effect until the new ordinances are officially published sometime in November.

Wendlandt said her bar would use the later closing time but would not stay open until 2 a.m. every night. Stearns County has already allowed later bar closings, as have two neighboring cities, Eden Valley and St. Martin.

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