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South Side restaurant ordinance still in discussion

| Saturday, Jan. 23, 2010, 12:00 p.m.

A recently introduced ordinance limiting the number of restaurants on the South Side is legally enforceable but could be overturned in court, according to the city's top attorney.

Daniel D. Regan issued his legal opinion earlier this week on the measure, introduced by Councilman Bruce Kraus. City Council voted to postpone discussion on the bill until Wednesday.

The ordinance would limit the number of restaurants, not including fast-food establishments, to one per every 50,000 square feet along East Carson Street between 10th and 27th streets. It stems from the city's 2007 measure to stop bars from opening once a neighborhood reaches a "saturation point." Judge Joseph M. James struck down the ordinance last month, saying it infringed on the power of the state Liquor Control Board.

Kraus said he plans to ask for another two-week hold on the ordinance to have further discussions with other elected officials.

"I didn't want to pursue this and I would have rather it not have happened," Kraus said. "But it has sparked rather recent conversations."

Calling the measure "unconstitutional," Councilman Ricky Burgess said it handcuffed restaurant owners and removed the public from the decision-making process.

"The bill itself was bad policy," Burgess said. "Any attempt to usurp a judge's ruling is inappropriate."

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