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Vote upholds board’s liquor license ruling

Claire Heininger | Wednesday, October 6, 2004

Almost a month to the day after deciding not to renew the liquor license for The Boat Club, the Indiana Alcohol and Tobacco Commission voted Tuesday to add The Library Irish Pub to the list of popular student bars that may not survive past spring.

Upholding the Sept. 22 recommendation of the St. Joseph County Alcoholic Beverage Board, the ATC voted 4-0 not to renew The Library’s permit, chairman Bart Herriman said.

The state will typically follow the local board unless local officials’ actions are found to be arbitrary or capricious, which was not a concern in this case, Herriman said.

In September, the local board claimed that pub owner Chuck Hammons lost his chance for approval by breaking an agreement to sell the bar a year ago, after Indiana State Excise police raided the establishment in April 2003 and cited 51 minors. A second raid on April 16 of this year led to the citation of 20 minors, all of whom were Notre Dame or Saint Mary’s students.

Hammons, who questioned St. Joseph County officials’ motives when the local board made its decision, said he was surprised the commission upheld it.

“The state has been fair in the past – the local board is the kangaroo court,” he said. “But obviously I’ve got to fight it, and we will appeal.”

The Library will be formally notified of the ATC’s decision within four days and will then have 15 days to file an appeal, Herriman said.

If Hammons does appeal, ATC hearing judge Mark Webb will hear arguments from both sides and make a recommendation to the commission based on his findings, Herriman said. The ATC will then make a final decision about renewal, but if the bar is denied again, Hammons could file a further appeal with the Indiana court system.

The Library can request to remain open during the four- to eight-month appeal process, Herriman said. The ATC will make a determination based on various factors, including large numbers of minors served, repeat violations and if any violent activities have occurred at the bar, he said.

“We weigh all the factors on a case-by-case basis,” he said. “That’s at our discretion. … If something’s so unbelievably egregious to not allow them to operate, it would outweigh all the [other] factors.”