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Bemidji City Council: 2 a.m. bar closing time process to begin

The first official step toward allowing for a 2 a.m. bar closing time is set for Monday night.

The Bemidji City Council is scheduled to consider the first reading of an ordinance that would allow bars to have the option of staying open later until 2 a.m.

The council will convene for its regular meeting at 7 p.m. at Bemidji City Hall. The public hearing on the issue will not be held that night; the public hearing currently is expected on Dec. 6.

In order for the later bar time to be adopted, the council would have to hold three readings - the second of which would feature the public hearing - and then vote to approve by a simple majority.

The council voted 4-3 last week to authorize the beginning of the ordinance process.

Supporters of the later bar time have stated that the later bar time could help draw more conventions and conferences to the city, especially since many other cities with conference-hosting capabilities already have a 2 a.m. bar time, such as St. Cloud, Moorhead and Duluth.

Further, they have noted that the city no longer operates on a 9-to-5 schedule as many workers work second and third shifts.

The Beltrami Area Beverage Association has stated its membership is opposed to the change.

However, it also has been argued that BaBa, perhaps, is opposed to new competition.

The 2 a.m. bar closing time change was first requested in February when Zorbaz on the Lake owner Tom Hanson said he would like to locate a new restraint on the south shore of Lake Bemidji. But Hanson said he would not do so without the ability of a 2 a.m. bar closing time.

Zorbaz has been proposed to be the commercial component of a multi-use development called Lake Bemidji Lodge on the south shore of Lake Bemidji. Lake Bemidji Lodge, which will have a total price tag of about $6 million, would have 22 residential units ranging in size from 720 to 1,900 square feet.

Animals and poultry

The council also is scheduled the same night to hold a continued public hearing on the licensing of animals and poultry.

The "animals and poultry" ordinance does not include dogs and cats: It refers to those such as a domesticated horse, pony, mule, donkey, pig, cow, goat, pigeon, chicken, turkey, duck, goose, rabbit, guinea hen, guinea pig and sheep.

The city's role in governing animals or poultry is split with the Greater Bemidji Area Joint Planning Board, which issues the permits.

Licensing and permitting would be left with the JPB, but the city would deal with enforcement and nuisance-type issues.