Exeter resident makes request for bar in city
Officials mull options, must amend ordinance to allow establishment
An Exeter resident is appealing to the city council to have an ordinance amended to allow he and his partners to open a bar within city limits.
Walter Berry, of Exeter, said he and his business partners are considering buying a building on East Commercial Street, with the hopes of turning it into a bar, the first bar in Exeter's city limits since the early 1960s.
"We could move out of the city, but I want to stay in the city for the tax revenue it would get," Berry said.
The ordinance pertaining to liquor licenses in Exeter states the city may only issue one liquor license per each 500 residents. With a population of just over 700, one license has been issued to the L&L Stop and Shop, but a second license has not been issued.
The ordinance also prohibits any establishment from selling alcohol that may be consumed on-site, which is language the council would have to strike or amend for Berry's proposed bar to be legal.
State statute also requires a bar in Missouri serve food, to the tune of making $250,000 per year, and while Berry said the proposed establishment will have food, there are ways to get around the state statute, such as joining a Viking Club.
Marion Jacobson, Exeter police chief, said he is not opposed to the opening of a bar in the city.
"The revenue would be good, and it would be a good place for the people to gather, eat and have some fellowship," he said. "I would not sit out there and watch Walter's bar, but I would enforce the law if people choose to drive drunk."
Rhonda Scott, alderwoman, said she has reservations about allowing such an establishment inside city limits.
"I have some concerns about it being inside the city limits, because bars bring trouble," she said. "But, that's just my personal opinion."
Exeter's council discussed the issue on March 12, choosing to do more research on the area, regulations and ordinance before taking the issue up again in April.
Officials said there are no zoning issues to be considered, but some wanted to talk to residents near the proposed bar's location to get their opinions on the matter.
The next Exeter council meeting is scheduled for April 9 at 3:30 p.m. at city hall, located at 116 Front St.