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Published: Tuesday, 8/5/2003

Angry Maumee councilmen may be powerless

National Amusements, Inc., has asked the state to allow it to serve alcohol at its theaters in Maumee, one of the area's most popular multiplexes.

But the proposal was met with surprise and anger by the Maumee City Council.

“The primary clientele on weekends are teens, and now we're throwing a liquor license into the mix. I really have a problem with a liquor license at the theater,” Councilman Douglas Brainard said at last night's meeting.

Council received notice from the Ohio Division of Liquor Control that National Amusements has applied for a liquor license for its 18-screen Showcase Cinemas on Conant Street.

The council has until Aug. 25 to request a hearing on the advisability of issuing a permit to the theater.

Several council members expressed concern about the advisability of serving alcohol at the theater given the number of its patrons who are underage. Another point of concern for council members was that the theater's intentions for using the liquor license are unclear.

Police Chief Robert Zink said that the plans would likely include a lounge adjacent to the main entrance of the theater, in a space now occupied by a video arcade.

Chief Zink said the local management of the theater was unsure of the company's plans for use of the liquor license. Officials with National Amusement could not be reached last night.

Councilman Brent Buehrer said he would oppose the serving of alcohol at the theater because liquor has never before been served at a theater complex in Maumee.

In spite of the council's strong feelings, however, there may be nothing they can do to prevent National Amusements from acquiring the license.

“The Division of Liquor Control is starting to demand more than just a general objection to even hold a hearing,” Sheilah McAdams, Maumee law director, said.

Ms. McAdams said the company would be permitted to sell liquor in the theater under the current zoning regulations and that it is unlikely that council will be able to object to the license without being able to prove one of a small number of specific allowable objections.

It is unlikely that they would be able to make such an objection because the theater is applying for a new liquor license, and therefore will have no prior history of violations, Ms. McAdams said.

Council's safety committee will meet Aug. 12 to discuss whether to request a hearing with the liquor control division.

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