LIQUOR LICENSE UPDATE

Show Up!

This is it.

All of our work comes down to this final moment: the public hearing for our liquor license text amendment before the Lincoln City Council is next Monday, February 5th at 3:00 pm at the City-County Building (555 S 10th St # 111). Because our item is found mid-way through the agenda, it's very likely that we will not get up to speak before 5:00 pm. Please watch our social media for current updates as the meeting progresses and consider coming after work!

These past few months have been spent gathering support for this change through phone calls, meetings, social media, reviving our petition, and calling for letters of support. Our community has provided dozens of letters, over 1,400 signatures, and many plan to show up next week. We've met with supporters, opponents, and the decision-makers to understand perspectives, to articulate our position, clarify information, and answer questions. 

This week our text amendment and the upcoming hearing received several media highlights including an article by Nancy Hicks and an opinion piece by Patte Newman, both found in the Lincoln Journal Star.

Help us pack the Lincoln City Council Chambers with supporters next Monday. Not able to make it? There's still time to submit a letter or sign our petition!

See you next Monday!

In cooperation,

Amy Tabor


PUBLIC HEARING RE-SCHEDULED

PLEASE NOTE CHANGE: Due to weather on 1/22 the public hearing for the liquor license text amendment will take place on Monday, February 5th at 3:00 pm.



Contact Your Lincoln City Council Member!

by Amy Tabor | General Manager | January 18, 2018

Hello everyone,

We are 11 days from the Lincoln City Council public hearing for our liquor license text amendment on Monday, January 29th at 5:30 pm. We've gathered an additional 200+ signatures on our online petition and plan to revive the hard copy petition in the store starting next Monday.

The community discussion around our amendment is ramping up. Brande Payne (Board Member) and myself have been meeting with Council Members, Neighborhood Associations, and other community stakeholders. We've shared our text amendment and a quick info sheet (available above) with the intent to provide accurate information about the current ordinance and our proposed change. Please know that you too have a voice in this discussion. I urge you to contact your City Council Member and let them know where you stand on this issue.

Here's a link to the City Council District map if you need to find your representative. You can find a form to contact individual Council Members here. Be sure to check your junk or spam folder for a message to verify your e-mail for city correspondence.

On behalf of the staff and board of directors, I want to thank you for your continued support!
 


Letters of Support + Pints & Politics

by Amy Tabor | General Manager | January 11, 2018

Hello everyone,

We are 18 days from the Lincoln City Council public hearing for our liquor license text amendment on Monday, January 29th at 5:30 pm. During the Planning Commission phase, we had dozens of letters of support submitted on our behalf - we heard from co-op owners, customers, staff, local business owners, farmers' market boards, and students. It was a really awesome display of community engagement and exciting to read about people's passion for our co-op!

Unfortunately, we've been informed that the City Council will not automatically receive these letters. I'm reaching out today to ask that if you did submit a letter to the Planning Commission, please consider resubmitting it to the City Council at councilpacket@lincoln.ne.gov. Letters need to be submitted no later than Friday, January 26th to ensure the Council members see it.

If you have not submitted a letter yet, here's your chance. It's easy and doesn't need to be complicated. Short and sweet is perfect!

This week a new Pints & Politics podcast was released featuring myself and Marcus Powers, co-founder and co-owner of Zipline Brewing Co. Hosted by Dan Parsons, CEO of Parsons Public Relations and avid beer enthusiast, we talked about the challenge that Open Harvest faces with the current city ordinance and the steps that we've taken to acquire an off-sale liquor license. Be sure to check it out!

Thank you for your continued support.


Liquor License Update: Sign our Petition!

by Amy Tabor | General Manager | January 3, 2018

Hello everyone,

We are down to our last hurdle. The Lincoln City Council public hearing for our liquor license text amendment is scheduled for Monday, January 29th at 5:30 pm. We need to gather as much support as we can over the course of this month to show those in opposition that this change will not just benefit Open Harvest, but other current and future retail grocery businesses by allowing them to provide a wide assortment of products to their customers.

We've reactivated our petition that we started back in November 2016 - please consider signing it (if you haven't already), add comments, and share with your family and friends!

Thank you for your continued support.

 


Liquor License Update: Third time is a charm!

by Amy Tabor | General Manager | December 19, 2017

On December 6th we attended another Planning Commission meeting for a final vote on our grocery store liquor license text amendment. The Commission voted 4-5 against the Planning Department’s recommendation of denial – which means we go to the Lincoln City Council with a recommendation of approval!

We are confident this amendment will not only benefit Open Harvest, but other current and future retail grocery businesses by allowing them to provide a wide assortment of products to their customers. It also encourages increased food access in core neighborhoods by allowing grocery stores to be competitive. Our amendment provides measurable levels of separation to protect neighborhoods and other businesses and creates a process for application that includes providing annual proof of fresh food sales and valid permitting. Most importantly, this amendment supports smart city planning and aligns with Guiding Principles found in the Lincoln / Lancaster LPlan 2040.

We are hopeful, but the fight is far from over. The City Council public hearing is on January 29th, 2018 at 5:30 p.m.

Thank you for supporting our efforts – with your help we are closer than ever!
 

HOW YOU CAN HELP

  • E-mail a letter of support for this text amendment to the Lincoln City Council using this feedback form by January 26th. (When e-mailing the city, please be sure to check your junk folder for an auto-response to verify your e-mail address to be sure that it gets through).
  • Attend the Lincoln City Council public hearing on Monday, January 29th at 5:30 PM and testify in support of this Text Amendment.
  • Share our efforts with your local friends and family! We need to show the Council that this issue is not just about Open Harvest. Our text amendment will allow more retail grocery stores to provide a wide selection of products that they need to stay competitive.
  • Here's a link to the supporting documentation (letters, reports, e-mails) pertaining to the Planning Commission meetings that we attended.

MEDIA COVERAGE

 

 

Planning Commission to Vote this Wednesday

by Amy Tabor | General Manager | November 13, 2017

After several hours of discussion about our grocery store text amendment on October 25th, the Planning Commission came to a tied vote. We rallied 24 letters of support and had six individuals speak in support of our efforts to allow grocery stores to acquire a liquor license through special permit. Concerns raised by Commissioners included: making a change for one entity, lack of process, and the protection of older neighborhoods.

We are headed back to the Planning Commission this Wednesday, November 15th at 1:00 pm where another vote will take place. After carefully considering concerns raised by the Planning Commission, we made a few revisions to our original amendment which helps to better define a grocery store and provides the Commission with a proposed process for application of a special permit that includes annual proof of fresh food sales. This amendment will not just benefit Open Harvest, but all retail grocery businesses, allowing them to provide a wide selection of products and improve food access in core neighborhoods. Most importantly, this amendment supports smart city planning and aligns with Guiding Principles found in the Lincoln / Lancaster LPlan 2040.

Thanks to all who have signed our petition, written letters, and shown up so far! 

HOW YOU CAN HELP

  • E-mail a letter of support for this text amendment to the Lincoln/Lancaster County Planning Commission at plan@lincoln.ne.gov by November 14th. (When e-mailing the city, please be sure to check your junk folder for an auto-response to verify your e-mail address to be sure that it gets through).
  • Attend the Lincoln/Lancaster County Planning Commission Meeting on Wednesday, November 15th at 1:00 PM and testify in support of this Text Amendment. You can find Public Hearing Procedures here.
  • E-mail a letter of support for this text amendment to the Lincoln City Council by November 30th. Find email address for City Council Members here.
  • Attend the Lincoln City Council Meeting (date/time TBA) and testify in support of this text amendment. Find more information on attending a City Council Meeting here.
  • E-mail your Neighborhood Association or attend your Neighborhood Association meeting. Let them know you support this text amendment and ask that they do too. Find Neighborhood Association contact information here.

MEDIA COVERAGE


Liquor License Update: Action Required!

By Amy Tabor | General Manager | October 30, 2017

Last Wednesday, October 25th the Planning Commission came to a tied vote after several hours of discussion and consideration of our grocery store text amendment. I attended with our Vice Board Chair, Megan Jackson, to present our amendment and answer questions. We rallied 24 letters of support and had four additional individuals speak in support of our efforts to allow grocery stores to acquire a liquor license through special permit. Concerns of those opposed, mainly representatives of neighborhood associations, focus on the protection of older neighborhoods by the current 100 foot rule.

I want to be clear in our efforts for a liquor license: we are not asking for an exception to the rule just for ourselves, but all local grocers. We are asking that the Planning Commission recognize the importance and value that grocery stores bring to a neighborhood. We are different from convenience stores, our primary purpose is to provide fresh, healthy foods to our local residents. Additionally, in the fiercely competitive market that small grocery stores are currently operating in, we should be allowed to sell the same products as the big retailers. I believe that there is a win-win solution out there, one that will preserve older neighborhoods and allow small, local businesses to compete.

We are headed back to the Planning Commission on Wednesday, November 15th where another vote will take place.

Thanks to all who have signed our petition, written letters, and shown up so far - we could still use your help. Please help spread the word about our efforts!

HOW YOU CAN HELP

  • E-mail a letter of support for this text amendment to the Lincoln/Lancaster County Planning Commission at plan@lincoln.ne.gov by November 14th. (When e-mailing the city, please be sure to check your junk folder for an auto-response to verify your e-mail address to be sure that it gets through).
  • Attend the Lincoln/Lancaster County Planning Commission Meeting on Wednesday, November 15th at 1:00 PM and testify in support of this Text Amendment. You can find Public Hearing Procedures here.
  •  E-mail a letter of support for this text amendment to the Lincoln City Council by November 30th. Find email address for City Council Members here.
  • Attend the Lincoln City Council Meeting (date/time TBA) and testify in support of this text amendment. Find more information on attending a City Council Meeting here.
  • E-mail your Neighborhood Association or attend your Neighborhood Association meeting. Let them know you support this text amendment and ask that they do too. Find Neighborhood Association contact information here.

MEDIA COVERAGE


Liquor License Update: Action Required!

By Brande Payne | Board Chair | Oct. 10 2017

Here we go again! As you may recall, Open Harvest has worked hard to provide you with a one-stop shopping experience. We already do so many things well, but the ability to sell beer and wine will help ensure our long-term viability in today’s competitve grocery envirnoment. Right now, Open Harvest and other neighborhood grocery stores are prohibited from being full-service grocers by a city zoning ordinance.

Current City of Lincoln zoning ordinance states that in order to apply for a liquor license businesses in our district must be “no closer than 100 ft from the property line of a premises used in whole or in part for a first floor residential use, day care facility, park, church, or state mental health institution, or 100 ft. from a residential district.” We cannot meet that requirement because of the residential zone located directly behind the co-op. This past Spring, the Open Harvest Board of Directors submitted a text amendment application on behalf of the co-op to change the setback distance for grocery stores. Our proposal changes those setback distances for grocery stores only to 25 ft. This change would allow us to apply for a liquor license and become the full-service grocery that our Owners and patrons have asked us to be.

Shortly after our submission, we were asked by the Planning Department to delay our amendment while they completed educational and informational sessions with members of the Planning Commission – updating them on the history of the current ordinance regulating alcohol sales. This was completed over the summer and now it’s time for us to move forward with the amendment.

The Lincoln/Lancaster LPlan 2040 has made it a priority to “support retention of existing businesses” and sustain the functionality of the core of the city. We hope to continue in that direction and give residents in Lincoln’s older neighborhoods access to a thriving, full-service, locally-owned neighborhood grocery store.

Our hope is that with enough support — not only from Open Harvest’s Board, staff, and owners, but also anyone that supports local businesses in Lincoln — we can make a strong case for this change in October. We still need your help!

HOW YOU CAN HELP

●      E-mail a letter of support for this text amendment to the Lincoln/Lancaster County Planning Commission at plan@lincoln.ne.gov by October 24th.

●      Attend the Lincoln/Lancaster County Planning Commission Meeting on Wednesday, October 25th at 1:00 PM and testify in support of this Text Amendment. You can find Public Hearing Procedures here.

●      E-mail a letter of support for this text amendment to the Lincoln City Council by October 31st. Find email address for City Council Members here.

●      Attend the Lincoln City Council Meeting (date/time TBA) and testify in support of this text amendment. Find more information on attending a City Council Meeting here.

●      E-mail your Neighborhood Association or attend your Neighborhood Association meeting. Let them know you support this text amendment and ask that they do too. Find Neighborhood Association contact information here.

 

 


Brandé Payne | March, 2017

Life as a small neighborhood grocery store in Lincoln, NE is not easy. Large national and multinational corporations continue to build on the perimeter of the city and use their advertising dollars to draw customers from the city center. However, not all residents of the city center possess the means or desire to travel miles to purchase food, especially when Open Harvest Co-op Grocery is bringing local and organic food to their neighborhood. We have been serving Lincoln for over 40 years, and we want to be around for 40 more. In order to do that we need to be more competitive. We already do so many things well; but becoming a full-service grocery by providing a one-stop shopping experience will help to ensure our long-term viability. In our current retail environment that means the ability to sell beer and wine.

Right now, Open Harvest and other neighborhood grocery stores are prohibited from being full-service grocers by a city zoning ordinance. Current zoning ordinance states that in order to apply for a liquor license businesses in our district must be “no closer than 100 ft from the property line of a premises used in whole or in part for a first floor residential use, day care facility, park, church, or state mental health institution, or 100 ft. from a residential district.” We cannot meet that requirement with the residential zone directly behind the Co-op. 

Recently the Open Harvest Board of Directors submitted a text amendment application on behalf of the Co-op to change the setback distance for grocery stores. Our proposal would have changed the setback distances for grocery stores only to 25 ft. The bad news is that after speaking with the Planning Department, it was made clear that there is no support for this amendment at the Planning Commission or City Council level. The lack of support appears to be because the amendment would only affect grocery stores. The good news is that there is support for a broader discussion, specifically a discussion that would look at the special permits section regarding liquor licenses as a whole. The discussion will hopefully lead to changes such that businesses like Open Harvest have an option to apply for a liquor license.

We do not yet know what form this change may take, only that there is a willingness to engage in the discussion. This is a promising first step! We have asked that Open Harvest be a part of this discussion and be alerted of any meetings or hearings that may take place. 

Businesses need to be full-service in order to be competitive, and neighborhoods need full-service businesses in order to thrive. The Lincoln/Lancaster Comprehensive Plan has made it a priority to “support retention of existing businesses” and sustain the functionality of the core of the city. We are hoping to continue in that direction and give Lincoln residents access to thriving, full-service, locally-owned neighborhood grocery stores and other neighborhood businesses. 

HOW YOU CAN HELP

  • Email a letter to the Lincoln/Lancaster County Planning Commission at plan@lincoln.ne.gov asking them to review Section 27.63.685 of the Lincoln City Municipal Code in an effort to make it possible for neighborhood businesses, such as grocery stores, to obtain a liquor license.
  • Email a letter to the Lincoln City Council asking them to review Section 27.63.685 of the Lincoln City Municipal Code in an effort to make it possible for neighborhood businesses, such as grocery stores, to obtain a liquor license. Find email address for City Council Members here: www.lincoln.ne.gov/CITY/council/members.htm.
  • Sign up for our e-newsletter below and watch your email updates and action alerts on this issue.

Brandé Payne

Open Harvest Board Chair

 

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