Columbia City Council unanimously passed an ordinance that will allow bars to stay open past 2 a.m., but not without a few changes.
The revisions, including raising the initial fee for an after-hours permit to $2,500 from $50, were introduced at an April 17 meeting. There will also be a $100 permit application fee and annual renewals will cost $1,000, assuming a bar has had no legal citations the previous year.
For bars that have received citations, renewal fees could be as high as $10,000.
Other conditions of the ordinance passed Tuesday include:
- Bars are required to be in operation for at least two years before they are eligible to apply for an after-hours permit.
- Bars are required to provide a copy of their food menus with their applications for after-hours permits.
- Bars are prohibited from offering drink discounts after 2 a.m. (Bars are currently allowed to serve only beer and wine, not liquor, past 2 a.m., per state law.)
- Bar owners are prohibited from transferring their after-hours permits to new bar owners.
Councilman Howard Duvall proposed three additional amendments at a work session earlier Tuesday, including an extended-hour clause that would grandfather in the 23 current bars that have extended-hour permits but deny after-hours permits to other bars.
Councilman Daniel Rickenmann called the amendment a backhanded way of trying to rescind the permits. He told the council there is a large population of the community that thrives after midnight.
Most of the bars in questions are centered in Five Points, where residents of adjoining neighborhoods have complained of late-night drunkenness and vandalism.
One of Duvall’s amendments did pass, adding a certification by a city-approved inspector affirming a location is in compliance with applicable building and fire codes. The amendment changed the wording of the original ordinance from current to applicable.