TJ Quills bar on Maple Street will no longer have to pay a $1,000 monthly fee toward security patrols in the surrounding neighborhood, the city’s alcohol board ruled on Tuesday.
The monthly sanction was imposed in 2011 amid a crackdown on unruly behavior outside four college-oriented bars within a block from one another. Amid raids by state alcohol agents and heightened scrutiny from the city, some of the bars closed, some changed hands, and TJ Quills was left with a strict set of operating conditions designed to reduce noise, littering and underage drinking — as well as a requirement to pay $1,000 every month to Maple Area Residents Inc. (MARI) toward a security patrol in the three blocks around the bar.
Last month, TJ Quills attorney Alex Lambert requested that the $1,000 fee be removed from the agreement, saying it was imposed on a previous owner of the bar and that it was unfair for TJ Quills to bear the burden alone for a much broader situation five years ago. Over the objections of City Councilwoman Susan Guidry’s office, several members of the city’s Alcohol Beverage Control board agreed with Lambert, and Commissioner Bill Schultz suggested releasing the bar from all its operating conditions, not just the fee.
Under protest, city attorney Dan McNamara asked for a month to renegotiate the agreement instead of throwing it out completely. On Tuesday, the matter returned before the alcohol board, and Lambert announced that the new agreement simply removes the fee.
“The MARI detail will be deleted,” Lambert said. “They (TJ Quills) will no longer be required to participate in that.”
On Schultz’s motion, the board then voted 5-1 in favor of the renegotiated agreement, with the lone ‘nay’ vote from Commissioner Jerry Speir, who lives in the Riverbend and strongly supported the original contract.
After the meeting, city spokesman Hayne Rainey said the board’s apparent leaning toward discarding the entire agreement necessitated the compromise. TJ Quills will still be required to maintain the strict policies on checking IDs, keeping doors closed, preventing loitering and labeling go cups to prevent littering.
“At the previous meeting of the Board, there was a motion to do away with the consent judgment in its entirety,” Rainey said. “Given this, the City thought it was prudent to maintain as much of the consent judgment’s original form. Following negotiations with the permittee, all provisions, save for the police detail, remain in effect.”
Tommy Milliner of Maple Area Residents Inc. said he was unable to attend Tuesday’s meeting of the alcohol board, and it was too soon for him to comment on the effects of its decision.