Lincoln City Council Considers Curfew Ordinance Change

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It's been two months since the Grand Theatre requested a permit from the City of Lincoln that would allow them to sell alcohol. A month ago the city voted in favor of the permit, but an ordinance that's been in place for almost 70 years may be in the way.

In 1949, a municipal code went into effect that does not allow children under the age of 16 to be in any business that serves alcohol past 9 p.m. At Monday's city council meeting, many council members questioned how often the violations actually happen.

"It does happen, it happens all the time," said Tim O'Neil.

O'Neil is an attorney that represents the Grand Theatre and thinks changes to the policy are long overdue.

"This ordinance, as it's drafted today, is 1949. It's not followed, it's not enforced, and it's just overly broad."

At the council meeting Monday night, many council members agreed with O'Neil.

"We didn't sell alcohol in convenience stores, we didn't have very many arenas where they served alcohol. The playing field is entirely different," said Councilman Doug Emery.

But others on the council are still on the fence about the issue.

"It's hard for me to see how many cases there are where a 14-year-old is out at 10 p.m. at night unaccompanied by an adult in either a restaurant that serves alcohol, or in some other establishment," said Councilman, Jonathan Cook.

While eliminating underage drinking is important, city councilman Trent Fellers said legal troubles are also at stake. That's why he wants the policy removed.

"We have entities on a nightly basis that might be in violation of this," said Fellers. "Both the entity gets ticketed and the person that's in there after 9 p.m. gets ticketed."

Rather than having businesses and residents break the law, Fellers said he hopes it's removed before it's too late.

"I think that we are going to have a problem if we have this policy and don't take it off of our books and deal with it right now."

The liquor license has not been granted to the Grand Theatre yet. The Liquor Commission will have a formal meeting to discuss the application on April 16. Meanwhile, the city council will decide if they will remove the curfew ordinance next week.