During the city of Alexandria’s annual tobacco compliance checks, three out of 23 stores with tobacco licenses failed to pass.

The businesses included Pilot gas station, Mills Fleet Farm and King Tobacco 2, according to a written report City Administrator Marty Schultz provided to the Alexandria City Council for its Monday meeting.

The Fleet Farm violation was the second in 24 months so it received a $200 fine.

The Pilot and King Tobacco offenses were first-time violations so they were each fined $50.

To check compliance, the police department sends in an underaged buyer who attempts to purchase cigarettes or other tobacco products from a store. If the underaged buyer is successful, the store fails the check.

City ordinances impose fines for first and second violations and a third violation results in having the tobacco license suspended for seven days. After a fourth violation, the penalty increases to a 20-day suspension and another violation could result in a 60-day suspension.

In a related discussion at Monday’s meeting, City Attorney Tom Jacobson said some tobacco license holders are reportedly selling to those under the age of 21 because city code prohibits sales to those under the age of 18.

Jacobson emphasized that the city code still restricts those younger than 21 from buying tobacco products because the ordinance also states tobacco license holders must abide by state and federal law, which restricts the age to those 21 and older.

To make the city ordinance crystal clear, Jacobson recommended the council refer the city’s tobacco ordinance, which also includes e-cigarettes, to the city’s Legislative Committee to change the ordinance to reflect the federal law restricting the age to those 21 and older.

The council voted 5-0 to follow Jacobson’s recommendation.

Quieter bars?

Bars in the Alexandria city limits that violate the city’s noise ordinance may soon risk getting their liquor license suspended or revoked.

On a 4-1 vote, the council gave preliminary approval to amend city code to specifically state that in order for license holders to keep their on-sale liquor license, they must manage their business in accordance with the city’s noise ordinance.

Existing code doesn’t list compliance with the noise ordinance as a condition of licensure.

Last summer, the city fielded several complaints regarding noise from bars, according to City Administrator Marty Schultz. The police department investigated the complaints and in one case, issued a ticket.

The city’s Legislative Committee recommended the council to take the action that would allow the council to suspend or revoke a license based on a noise violation. A suspension would not exceed 60 days.

Council member Todd Jensen opposed the amendment, saying it was “too loose” and lacked specific wording of what a violation is and how many violations could occur before a liquor license holder would lose their license.

The city attorney said the changes add more specific information because the existing ordinance states that the council could decide to revoke or suspend a license “for any reasonable cause.” The change adds language that specifically refers to noise violations, he said.

Schultz said a noise violation occurs if a police officer responds to a complaint and can hear the loud noise from a public right-of-way after 11 p.m. He said it would provide the council with “another tool it its toolbox” for dealing with repeated noise violations.

Veterans Memorial Park Parade

The council issued a special event permit to allow the organizers of the new Veterans Memorial Park to have a parade and dedication ceremony on Saturday, July 4 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

The parade, featuring military vehicles, patriotic units and veterans, will take place on Broadway, from Fourth to Ninth Avenue. Eighth Avenue will be blocked off from Broadway to Fillmore. Several thousands are expected to attend the event.

“It sounds like we’ll have a pretty good crowd,” said Gabe Pipo, chair of the Veterans Memorial Park Committee. “We’ve received a lot of feedback about it.”

Organizers also requested police services at the event for traffic control, security, barricading streets, set-up and use of equipment.

Approval is also required from the Minnesota Department of Transportation because Broadway serves as a state trunk highway.

March for the Marquee

A special event permit was issued for a first-time event – March for the Marquee on Wednesday, July 8.

The run-walk will raise funds for the Andria Theatre, which plans to purchase a new marquee, new lighting and an improved sound system.

It will begin at 5:30 p.m. on the trail from City Park to Big Ole Central Park and back. About 250 are expected to participate. No roads will be blocked off.

Good news from the state

The Minnesota Department of Transportation confirmed the city will receive a boost in state aid for streets this year.

It will amount to $1,214,193 – an increase of $88,747 or 8 percent – from the 2019 total of $1,125,446. Of that amount, a total of $303,548 will be used for maintenance and $910,645 for construction.