More bars could open in downtown Lee’s Summit in a direction chosen by the City Council, but it also might consider limits on the number of taverns ultimately allowed.
The council, after a public hearing on proposed ordinance amendments Aug. 1, voted to draft an ordinance changing the Unified Development Ordinance to allowing more bars downtown.
It also agreed to revamping sign regulations in the city. The ordinances will need final votes for approval at a later meeting.
Councilmember Kathy Hofmann voted against allowing more bars. She asked whether residential neighborhoods on the outskirts of downtown had been mailed notices. It was not required, city staff said, but there were legal notices published.
Linda Tyrrel, deputy director of planning and development, said the city had a couple of requests for building bars downtown, but distance limits between bars and residences in the Central Business District stopped the proposals. Bars now operating downtown are “grandfathered” because they existed before the current ordinance. She said residents who are directly affected would be those living in downtown lofts.
The new rules also would apply in some undeveloped areas of the Missouri 150 Corridor where the city plans to encourage denser mix of urban-style dwellings and businesses.
“Has there been any discussion of the number of bars we’ll allow downtown, since this is a family community?” Hofmann asked. “Do we need to look at it as a council?”
She said there are now 12 restaurants and bars that serve alcohol. She asked if the measure would require more police enforcement downtown.
She was the lone vote against liberalizing the bar rules, but three council members were absent (Allan Gray, Ed Cockrell and Dave Mosby).
Councilmember Derek Holland proposed tabling the bar discussion because of the absences. He said it’s a valid question, whether the number of bars should be limited.
Councilmember Bob Johnson said he didn’t mind discussing the maximum number of bars which would eventually be allowed, but thought the current proposal could be voted and have that discussion later.
The council voted 4-1 to draft the ordinance.
Property owners like Tim Hosmann want the rules opened up to allow additional opportunity to lease space.
Hosmann said a potential tenant come to him with a proposal to open bar, but was prevented by the current rules.
He said he thought the proposed revisions would work well for downtown.
“Most people moving in downtown know what the district is,” Hosmann said.
Hosmann said he was uncertain of the idea setting a quota on bars. “I don’t know how you decide a number like that,” he said.
Councilmember Rob Binney said he’d heard from several downtown owners who support the revisions.
“It’s an opportunity to encourage the redevelopment we’re looking for,” Binney said.