Should Tallmadge amend its laws to extend the option of serving alcoholic beverages to more restaurants in the city? 

There is an ordinance pending before Tallmadge City Council, which proposes to expand the areas included in the Fine Dining Overlay District; restaurants within that designation would be conditionally permitted uses allowed to serve alcoholic beverages.

As drafted, the proposal would strike the current stipulation prohibiting such restaurants from being located closer than 500 feet from a church or school in regular use.

Council has scheduled a public hearing on the proposal for Aug. 24 at 7:30 p.m. at city hall, 46 North Ave.

Since 2000, the sale and consumption of alcohol has been allowed in some areas of Tallmadge, provided the restaurant derives at least 65 percent of its total revenue sales from food. Right now there are six restaurants in the city selling and serving alcohol: Danny Boys, Delanie’s, El Tren, Firehouse Grille, La Mexicana, and Sammie’s, according to Rita Weinberg, the city’s planning director/economic developer.

“So this would be just a small step to open up the zone a bit,” Mayor David G. Kline said of the proposal. “When we went from zero (restaurants) serving alcohol, we basically did it in baby steps, only  allowing it in certain strategic areas,” according to Kline. “Now that’s it’s been implemented for more than 10 years, I think it’s time to expand that because we know the track records of the existing restaurants and we haven’t attracted a bar atmosphere.”

Kline said he and Weinberg believe the proposed changes could be a catalyst for economic development. Noting that Tallmadge residents leave the city to patronize nice dining establishments in nearby Cuyahoga Falls and Akron, Kline said, “I’d like to give them a reason to spend that money in Tallmadge.”

Kline notes what’s proposed is a tool which would allow restaurant owners who wish to serve alcohol to start the process. If a restaurant owner wants to open an establishment in a precinct of the city which is not already approved by voters to do so, he or she must petition to place a liquor option on the ballot. If the voters approve such a request, the restaurant owners would still have to go back to the Tallmadge Planning and Zoning Commission to secure a conditional zoning certificate. “But without this amendment to the map, they can’t even apply for any of that,” the mayor said.

“I don’t believe we have lost any business prospects because of the existing restrictions,” Weinberg stated. “However, we do wish to attract quality dining establishments and destinations, so expanding the district is an important first step in the process.”

“Through the legislation currently under consideration, we are acknowledging we believe this is an important step in attracting new and different types of businesses to our city,” Weinberg said. “Because licensing can be a lengthy process, the city is taking a proactive approach to adjust the zoning so we can be prepared and not delay that process.”

When asked, the Chamber’s executive director, Terry Bumpas, said “The Chamber does not have a public stance on (the) proposed ordinance.”

The Planning and Zoning Commission has considered the legislation to amend the section of the city code pertaining to dining establishments serving alcoholic beverages.

Planning Commission member Patrick Larson said he is in favor of expanding the liquor district so the city can attract more businesses but said he is “just not very comfortable” with eliminating the stipulation that such restaurants cannot be located closer than 500 feet from a church or school.

“I personally have a problem with eliminating that restriction,” Larson told his colleagues. The mayor said the present law prevents a restaurant that serves alcohol from locating in the multi-million dollar Tallmadge Town Center development rising next to city hall due to the proximity of Our Lady of Victory Church and the former Tallmadge Middle School, where a daycare is planned.

Planning Commission member Julie Oliver abstained from discussion and voting due to a potential conflict of interest. Oliver works with the Testa Companies, which is developing the Tallmadge Town Center project adjacent to city hall, and that property may be impacted by the legislation, if it is approved. The mayor said no one from Testa has requested the dining establishment change.

The Planning and Zoning Commission has tabled the legislation for further consideration; the body must make a recommendation to adopt, reject or modify it to Tallmadge City Council.

Email: ewalsh@recordpub.com.

Phone: 330-541-9419

Twitter: @ EllinWalsh_RPC

Proposed changes to Tallmadge's Fine Dining District

These locations would be included in a proposed update to the city’s Fine Dining District:

• All of Tallmadge Circle;

• West Avenue: From the Circle to the westerly corporate boundary;

• Brittain Road (Tallmadge portion): Entire length from Akron to Cuyahoga Falls within Tallmadge corporate limits;

• South Avenue: From the Circle south to the railroad tracks and from Van Evera, south to corporate limits;

• Southeast Avenue: From the Circle southeast to Parmalee Drive, Southeast Avenue six corners-commercially zoned properties, and from Dunbar Road southeast to Newton Street;

• East Avenue: From the Circle East to Cambrian Drive;

• Northeast Avenue: from the Circle to Kent Drive;

• North Avenue: From the Circle up to and including 100 North Avenue;

• Northwest Avenue: From the Circle northwest to Overdale Drive;

• Southwest Avenue: From the Circle to Wright Road;

• Erie Road: From Southeast Ave to East Avenue;

• Metric Drive; and

• Community Drive: From East Avenue to Northeast Avenue.