New law eases liquor license rules in historic Jazz district

KANSAS CITY, MO. — The future home of "Velvet Freeze Daiquiris" next to Smaxx on 18th and Vine is a work in progress. 

It's a business that for the last year Brandon Dixon has fought to add to the historic district.

"Everyone who has a stake on Vine wants something positive for Vine," Dixon told 41 Action News.

But because the location sits within 300 feet of Grace Temple on Highland Avenue getting a liquor license has been a hurtle. 

"There are multiple liquor bottles always outside and trash debris all out this area and instead of them wanting to come and fix the problem that we already have here, they want to add more liquor to the equation," Reverend Demean Ellis, pastor at Grace Temple said. 

However, in a 10 to 3 vote the city council passed an ordinance Thursday that lifts the automatic veto power that churches and schools possess when a business is looking to get a liquor license within the jazz district.

"That ordinance was placed there to protect the churches and schools and to have that removed and then try to hide it behind Jazz, I think that was a very crooked thing to do -- crooked and perverse," Ellis said. 

Councilman Jermaine Reed who sponsored the ordinance said it would help boost business for the Jazz district he represents. 

In a news release Reed's office wrote in part:

Ordinance 180122 was filed with the Clerk’s Office on February 15 after the Alcoholic Beverage Advisory Group unanimously voted to approve the recommendation that the City Council adopt the proposed ordinance on February 5, 2018. Since the introduction of Ordinance 180122, there have been 46 days for community discussion, and during that time the project team has worked to clear up any misperceptions and presented on the facts and details of the policy change that:

  • Only affects the 18th & Vine District.
  • Enables 18th & Vine to function as the entertainment district that it is, allowing new restaurants and music venues with food, beer, and wine to thrive.
  • Still requires a liquor license applicant to get consent from a majority of eligible consenters in 45 days.
  • Provides for a 6-month probationary period for any business that receives a new liquor license.
  • Keeps the approval process for a liquor license significantly intact.
  • Involves surrounding community, schools, and religious organizations. 
  • Allows eligible consenters, including schools and churches, to voice their concern if a new business is NOT a good fit for the community.

"This area doesn't really need more alcohol establishments down here to enhance or enrich the atmosphere," Ellis said. 

Dixon doesn't see it that way. 

"We want him to be a part of our community and we want to be a part of his community," Dixon said. "Either, I'm looking back at what it was or I'm looking at what it could be and, man, this is going to be a beautiful area. It will be."

Dixon plans to apply for a liquor license under the new law.

If everything goes right, he plans to open his daiquiri bar in mid-May.

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