By DAVID GREEN
A motion to object to the renewal of a liquor license held by Mel's Place and Patio in Fayette was defeated by village council members last week by a 5-1 vote.
Ohio law gives local government units the opportunity to object to the renewal of a license which would then lead to a hearing before the county Department of Liquor Control.
Councilor Scott Wagner made a motion to accept the resolution that was prepared by village solicitor Tom Thompson, but he was the only one to cast a vote in support of the measure. Mat Johnson abstained from voting.
The resolution stated that Mel's Place is a "drain on Village resources" because police spend more time with incidents there than at similar establishments. It also mentioned parking problems, interference with law enforcement efforts, and a disregard for laws and regulations of the state.
The document summarized the situation by claiming the renewal of the license would cause "substantial interference with public decency, sobriety, peace or good order."
Before the vote, Ron Lichtenwald, who owns the business with his wife, Melody, talked about the allegations in the resolution. He said the tavern is always careful to check clients' ages and that it's backed up the fact that he has had no problems with Liquor Control during his 20 years of ownership. Two other businesses in town have been cited.
Sometimes he's too firm with people, he said, but that's necessary.
"We've got to protect that license," he said. "I'm trying to do everything right."
Lichtenwald said he has followed the police from a distance when an officer who was formerly employed by the Village seemed to be targeting his establishment.
Lichtenwald said the resolution makes him out to be a monster.
"If I'm screwing up that bad, how come no one came to me?" he said.
He was surprised by the sudden decision to recommend that his license should be revoked. He thought he had a good relationship with the police.
After the resolution was turned down, Lichtenwald said to police chief Jason Simon, "We need to talk, Jason. Please."
INSURANCE—Council voted to increase employees' contribution to health insurance premiums to seven percent of the current cost. They had been paying seven percent of the cost determined at a specific time in the past, and that figure didn't reflect cost increases.
A single employee will pay $9.29 more a month. Someone with a plan for one employee plus a spouse will pay $18.24 more a month. The family plan will cost $25.02 more a month.
POLICE—Council approved a request from Chief Simon to promote officer Robert Bartz to the sergeant position. Council also approved a request to sign a three-year contract with Lexipol to provide policy updates for the police department. The program will cost the village $1,400 for the first year—half of full cost—and the village's share increases the following two years. The contract can be broken if the council decides to discontinue the service.
VFO—Council's finance committee will interview candidates to fill the village fiscal officer position that is currently being handled on a part-time basis by Karin Sauerlender. The committee would like to interview her and tax administrator Genna Biddix for the position. Sauerlender also works for the Village of Metamora.
ISSUE I—Council passed a resolution of support for State Issue I on the May 6 ballot. If approved, the state will continue to sell bonds for the Ohio Capital Improvements Program. The program has been of great benefit to Fayette over recent years, said mayor Ruth Marlatt, helping to fund street projects and the recent sewer upgrade work.