Council Meeting, September 14, 2021

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Big highlight: Council refuses to consider liquor license for a proposed daiquiri bar which would be right next door to STEAM McClure South-Berkeley and near Our Lady of Guadalupe.

In the absence of both Chief John Hampton and Chief Frank McCall, City Manager Eric Osterberg gave the COVID update, but noted other reports would come if they were able to join. The city falls under President Biden’s vaccine mandate, but they are awaiting OSHA’s federal rule making to be complete before deciding on how to comply. Osterberg attended a meeting of the Civilian Review Board (CRB) and had a meeting with the DOJ team.

Osterberg also discussed funding coming from the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) from which we will be receiving $3.7 million by the end of next year, with the first round coming towards the end of this month, and the balance (about $2 million) about September 2022. There are stipulations on how this can be spent and right now the Treasury Department has an interim final rule, which is subject to change. The money can be used to respond to needs of public health, repair economic damage to the city due to the pandemic to local businesses and residents, provide premium/hazard pay to first responders, and replace loss of revenue (according to a calculation), or by investing in water or broadband infrastructure.

Osterberg announced he will begin having public office hours starting next Monday. This will be held every first and third Monday from 8:30-10:00am at City Hall. He will be having a post on Facebook and on the city website on the City Manager’s page, which should be up by the end of the week. He also noted that residents unable to make the schedule times on Monday morning can arrange other times to talk.

The first public hearing of the evening was for a liquor license for Vibez Daiquiri Bar, which is within 300 feet of a school (STEAM Academy at McCluer South-Berkeley). Four persons from the public spoke against allowing the license as the site is across the street from one school and close to a second school and church. The business owner noted that this was not hard liquor, but frozen drinks, and that she especially sought to appeal to local college students. Several Council Members said they objected to the site but supported finding a more suitable location for the business.

The second public hearing for a special use permit for a Barbershop did draw discussion among council and staff regarding the differences between a salon and a barber shop and potential code changes in the future to ensure consistency and fairness for all potential businesses, but no objections to the permit.

Finally, the CDBG grant hearing began by noting that the amount of funding from the grant will in no way repair all streets that need attention. Other funding sources may be possible to increase the number of streets that can be replaced or repaired [potentially ARPA if guidelines allow it, and STP funds (Surface Transportation Program). There were several public comments and concerns raised that residents were not being heard.

After closing the public hearings Mayor Jones called for a motion and a second for a vote to approve a liquor license for Vibez Daiquiri Bar, the subject of the first public hearing. After three calls for a motion, none of the council moved to allow a vote.

The council continued with Bills for First and Second Reading.

Just before the end of the public meeting, Chief Hampton joined and announced that the Ferguson Fire Department has received a grant for $65,000 which will cover purchase of at least two new thermal cameras previously requested for on capital improvements. Additionally, a grant from Missouri American Water was just announced today and will cover the costs of additional gloves and PPE. Elliott Liebson also announced that this Saturday is the city’s Yard Sale and maps will be available at Paul’s Market, the Library, Community Center, and at the Farmers’ Market.