88 Liquor Licences Approved

At the head table, from left to right - Town Clerk Ruben Gonzalez, Mayor Manuel Heredia, Jr. J.P., Assistant Inspector Dean Lozano, WPC Carolyn Dixon and Health Inspector Florencio Acosta
On Monday, January 13th, the San Pedro Liquor Licence Board met to consider applications for 1997 licences. Of the five member board, four members were absent. Chairman Romel Gomez was out of the country. Mayor Manuel Heredia elected to proceed in order to accommodate the large number of businesspeople in attendance. The Mayor started the meeting by discussing complaints received by the board - those regarding noise, extended hours and the serving of underage drinkers. He said the board was very serious about enforcing the laws pertaining to these subjects. He asked that establishments be very careful regrading underage drinkers and said the board was considering some sort of I.D. Mayor Heredia referred to a letter sent from San Pedro High School asking that underage drinking be taken very seriously. Licence holders were reminded that their licences should be posted in a conspicuous place and they should also post a sign that states that persons under 18 years old would not be served. He also said that the type of licence should be kept in mind - that an establishment with a shop licence cannot allow liquor to be consumed on the premises. "The police will be checking," said the Mayor.

Assistant Inspector of police Dean Lozano reiterated many of the Mayor's comments. He said that since September he personally has been monitoring liquor licence premises. He observed that many did not have under 18 signs up, licences were not posted in a conspicuous place and that some shop liquor licence holders were allowing liquor to be consumed on the premises. He said that letters will be sent to those who serve under 18's and court will be the next step. He has received noise complaints about two establishments last weekend, that customers were leaving hotels due to the noise. He said that licence holders cannot be habitual drunkards, cannot have a police record of violence and must be conversant with the liquor regulations (opening and closing hours, not serving drunk people, etc.)

Health Inspector Florencio Acosta said that the Health Department could not recommend any locations where construction was not yet complete.

Bruce Collins then asked three questions. 1) Decibel meters were supposed to be sent out to the island by the Department of the Environment and a committee named to monitor the noise levels. Had any decibel readings ever been taken? 2) Regarding serving liquor to minors, since there has never been any action taken against either a minor or a liquor licence holder, one must conclude the board is not serious regarding enforcement. 3) There seems to be only one member of the Liquor Licence Board present. Is a quorum necessary? Mayor Heredia answered all three questions. He said the decibel meters were on the island, but a committee had not yet been named to take readings. The committee must be gazetted. Mayor Heredia said he had spoken with Minister Young last Friday and the process will be finalized this week. The Inspector will be one committee member, one of the civilian constables will be a member and one of the Town Board Councilors will be a member. Regarding service to minors, the Mayor said that he agreed, there has never been real enforcement of the law, He said in the past minors have been brought to the police station and their parents called. Enforcement of the law will be done. A quorum of the board was not present; one member had resigned, the chairman was out of the country and the other two had been informed of the meeting. "We decided to go ahead with the meeting so as not to disappoint all the business members here."

Consideration of licences started, with no objections until the licences of Marina Gonzalez (Marina's Mini Store) and Israel Turcios (Los Caminantes) were discussed. In the case of Mr. Turcios, he was told that consumption of liquor could not be done on the premises and he promised to adhere to the law. In the case of Ms. Gonzalez, the proximity of "El Rey de Todos", a bar also owned by the applicant was deemed to be a problem - there is no fence or physical separation between the bar and the store. It was decided to grant the publican special licence but not the shop liquor licence. The publican special licence request of Francisco Martinez for the Laguna Bar was put on hold. He or his representative were not present .

The two discos, Big Daddy's and Tarzans's, were discussed.

Mayor Heredia said he had received complaints that for the past four days there was excessive noise at Big Daddy's between 10 p.m. and 3 a.m. "The board asks you to keep the noise down." A copy of the complaint letter will be given to the disco. Their licence was granted for one quarter on condition they keep the noise level down. Inspector Lozano said Big Daddy's was neglecting to bring in requests for time extension approvals to the police. The police don't know if the time extensions have been approved by the board. Mayor Heredia said that Big Daddy's went past midnight the prior weekend without approval. Inspector Lozano asked that extension requests be made by Tuesday since he has to forward these to Belize City.

Tarzans was asked by Mayor Heredia to keep the noise down, to abide by the regulation. He asked for Mr. Powton's voluntary compliance until the noise board could be established. Inspector Lozano said he had spoken to Mr. Powton this morning and reminded him of his neighbour's complaint. Just before Christmas, complaints had been received from Martha's Hotel and the Barrier Reef Hotel. The Inspector said, "Even though you are a business, you have to serve the public also." Mr. Powton gave a history of his establishment. He emphasized he was soundproofed and said he voluntarily asked to have a sound check, which Tarzans passed. "To me, the complaints are unjustified." A normal reading inside my establishment is 55 decibels. We turned it up and it read under 70. He said he always closes his windows at 15 minutes to twelve. My other question is if I were the person who had not applied for an extension last weekend, what would have happened? Bruce Collins then stated that Mr. Powton may believe he is soundproofed, but when the windows are left open at Tarzans until almost midnight, there is no soundproofing. Mr. Collins said he goes to bed long before midnight and would not like to live next to Tarzans.

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