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Owner of State Street Taco Bell suing city of Madison over liquor license

MADISON (WKOW) — Madison Mayor Paul Soglin has won another battle to stop an additional bar on State Street… at least for now.

The common council didn’t have the votes Tuesday night to override his veto. He was trying to stop the approval of a liquor license for Taco Bell Cantina in the 500 block of State Street.

The mayor says the bar-filled area is at the center of drinking-related crimes and adding another bar won’t help.

“85 percent of the rest of the city is not getting service because of the officers and firefighters who are committed to this area,” Soglin told the alders during a discussion of the veto.

Soglin showed the alders a video of security footage and photos of crime victims and crowds outside bars in the area.

Madison police Capt. Jason Freedman says the owners of the restaurant were understanding and made changes to their liquor license proposal to address police concerns, but he agrees there is a problem with bar capacity and over-consumption that needs to be addressed.

“I absolutely agree that strategically work needs to be done downtown,” Freedman said. “It’s been our priority in the central district in 2017 and will be in 2018.”

Everyone who spoke agreed a new policy is needed to address crime downtown, but many did not think turning down another liquor license would solve anything.

“I don’t know how we can call ourselves policy makers and vote with the mayor on the veto because we’d be making a decision in the absence of policy,” said Alder Matt Phair.

The mayor wants a policy that would ban additional liquor licenses in the State Street area.

The council needed 14 votes to override the veto but only got nine. The discussion might not be over yet. Four alders were not at the meeting, so one of them could call for another vote at the next meeting in two weeks.

Jennifer Kliese

Weekend Anchor and Reporter, 27 News

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