Business Nuisance Ordinance Debated at Kenosha City Council

July 11, 2022 3:30p

(WGTD)---The City of Kenosha is trying to strike a balance between holding bars and restaurants responsible for the behavior of their patrons---and practicality.

The City Council began discussion last week on a business nuisance ordinance that would cover the behavior of patrons both inside and outside of establishments. The proposal would extend to any city license holder—not just taverns and restaurants.

The issue has come up a number of times in Kenosha. In Racine recently, the owner of a tavern blamed the city for the shooting death of her husband. He had gone to a nearby parking lot at closing to try to break up a fight in order to protect the bar’s liquor license.  

At last week’s Kenosha council meeting, the owner of Chaser’s Lounge—a bar in Kenosha’s Uptown—complained that the proposed ordinance would appear to burden bar owners with unreasonable expectations. "Thinking that the owners of these businesses are going to go out and knock on windows and tell people you can't be in my lot when anybody can pull out a gun and boom you're done," said Taja Chandler owner of Chaser's Lounge in Uptown. "I dare any of you to come to my neighborhood, knock on a window and tell them don't park here or don't drink or stop smoking that pot in your car," she said.

Assistant City Attorney Matt Knight offered some clarification. "It (the proposal) does not call for anybody to arm themselves or become police officers," Knight said. "It requires them to take reasonable means. One of those reasonable means would be to contact the police department if there are problems at your business." 

Action on the proposed ordinance was deferred at the request of the measure’s principal sponsor. David Bogdala said he recently had a good discussion with the police chief and representatives of the tavern league, and planned to come up with some clarifying language.

As written, business owners who violate the ordinance could be fined. After three incidents within a 12 month period, business owners could have their licenses either suspended or revoked.