84 liquor licences approved, 2 denied

Left to right: Florencio Acosta, Health; Gonzalo Muñoz, Board Member; Ruben Gonzalez, Clerk of the Board; Chairman Fortunato Flota and Board Member Mayor Alberto Nuñez. Assistant Superintendent of Police Michael Gutierrez was not present when the picture was taken.

At the first 1998 meeting of the Ambergris Caye Liquor Licensing Board, 84 liquor licenses were approved and 2 were denied. Both license applicants (or a representative) were not present. One of the licenses denied was a renewal of Publican Special Liquor License made by Francisco Martinez for the Laguna Nite Club located on Crocodile Street. Assistant Superintendent of Police (ASP) Michael Gutierrez objected to the issuance of the license. He said "We certainly have an objection. The police have information that the place is being used as a distribution point of marijuana and other drugs. ...we have arrested a number of persons who have mentioned this... ...it is a place that is harboring criminal types and unsavory characters." Ruben Gonzalez, the Clerk of the Liquor License Board, said the board has received letters concerning this. ASP Gutierrez said, "It would be incumbent upon the applicant to be here to respond." The board decided to withhold approval of the license, pending the result of a meeting with the applicant (scheduled for Wednesday, January 21). The second application denied was also for a publican special. The new application was made by Jerry Gilbreath for the Belize Havana Club located at the north end of Barrier Reef Drive in a remodeled building. The board had received a letter from one of the neighbours stating there were too many bars in San Pedro and that specific area. In addition, the board said they checked with the Ambergris Caye Planning Committee and the permit for the remodel was given for a residence, not a commercial building.

The board approved licenses in the following categories: 3 Hotel Liquor licenses; 4 Malt & Cider Licenses; 6 Beer Licenses; 19 Shop Licenses; 20 Restaurant Licences; 2 Publican General Licenses and 40 Publican Special Licenses.

Clerk of the Board Ruben Gonzalez presided over the meeting. Board members in attendance were Chairman Fortunato Flota and members Mayor Alberto Nuñez and Gonzalo Muñoz. Florencio Acosta represented Public Health and ASP Michael Gutierrez represented the police. At the beginning of the meeting, Mr. Gonzalez discussed noise and reminded licenses holders that they need to be sound proofed.

Service Stations
ASP Gutierrez said the police had received a directive from police headquarters in Belmopan that the police should object to the issuance of licenses to service stations. ASP Gutierrez said he would be asking for clarification on how this applied to San Pedro. A long discussion ensued concerning whether this should apply to San Pedro or not. Agent Guadalupe Montejo, who represented all four service stations in San Pedro, stoutly defended the issuance of licenses, maintaining that in San Pedro they were for the benefit of tourism and that in San Pedro it would be a hindrance to serving the tourism industry. "We don't have the open roads as on the mainland; we don't have a high boat accident rate." Doyle Prince pointed out the section of the law (17B) which stated that objections to the issuing of licenses should be done 10 days before the meeting. ASP Gutierrez said he would check with his people in Belmopan and that he was sure they would be flexible. He also mentioned that the police were members of the board and they could raise an objection to issuance of a licenses. He said, We are not dictating to the board, we are only going on record as to our objection. It is the board's discretion on whether to grant a license or not. The decision concerning whether a licenses would be issued was up to the board.

Sound - "coming from the clubs"
Some letters have been received by the board, including one with 20 signatures concerning the sound from the downtown "clubs" which were not mentioned by name. Applicants were reminded of the sound ordinance and asked to comply. In addition to the discos, "loud" letters have been received concerning the Laguna Bar, Manny's Drive Inn Bar, Fido's and the Banana Beach Club. Mr. Gonzalez said Fido's has been denied extension requests on several occasions because they are wide open, not sound proofed. The board will issue extensions for special occasions such as Christmas, but they should be sound proofed. The police mentioned that a gentleman at the Caye Beach Dive resort was rude to the police when they went to make their inspection of the premises. The gentleman was not present, but their representative explained what he was told were the circumstances. ASP Gutierrez said that was not what happened. The ASP said he just wanted to point out the rudeness, not stop the license from being granted. The license was granted. The board asked applicants to be more cooperative when their licence applications were being reviewed by members of the board.

ASP Gutierrez reminded restaurant licenses holders that their licenses allowed them to sell liquor only to those buying a full meal.

Complaints about patrons urinating in public and trash accumulation at El Rey de Todos were mentioned. ASP Gutierrez said the police also had information that the bar was a possible center for the selling of drugs. Sandals was mentioned as closing after 12 midnight, not having a fire extinguisher, no exit signs and no notice that minors will not be served alcohol.

84 liquor licences approved, 2 denied

Copyright 1997, San Pedro Sun. Design by Casado Internet Group

San Pedro Town, Ambergris Caye, Belize News