Beer will keep flowing at The Arena after city removes its block to liquor license renewal
Editor's note: This story was revised Wednesday to include a statement from Kristen Larcom, senior assistant city attorney.
Amy Biolchini | AnnArbor.com
The Ann Arbor City Council voted unanimously Monday night to remove the objection and to recommend that the Michigan Liquor Control Commission approve The Arena’s application for renewal.
The action comes after the bar paid its outstanding debt to the city by April 30 following threats by the city to hold its liquor license in escrow for a year.
The city claimed The Arena failed to pay about $7,000 in 2011 personal property taxes as well as about $1,660 in a 2011 default judgment to the 15th Judicial District Court.
In March, the council had filed a recommendation to object to the renewal of The Arena’s liquor license and to file a formal objection on the matter to the MLCC.
Mike Flore, owner of The Arena, said Tuesday that he understood the city's emphasis on collecting its tax dollars.
"The personal property tax was an oversight on my part," Flore said.
The default judgement was a result of a six-year-old invoice that Flore said the city had given him for 26 hours of overtime that two officers spent outside of an outdoor party The Arena held in 2007.
When Flore approached then-Ann Arbor Police Chief Barnett Jones, he told Flore that the invoice was a suggestion and that payment was not required, Flore said.
With that advice, Flore said he didn't pay the invoice.
Three years later, Flore said he got a bill from the city again for the officers' overtime -- and called the city attorney's office to clarify the situation.
"I’m the only outside venue that has been charged for police to show up at your outside venue and babysit," Flore said, explaining his argument to the city attorney's office.
Flore said the city attorney's office told him that they would not be pursuing payment of the invoice. With that knowledge, Flore said he didn't go to the hearing on the issue because it was his understanding that it had been dropped.
Kristin Larcom, senior assistant city attorney, acknowledged that Flore did contact the city attorney's office regarding the invoice.
“I did not tell him that we would not be pursuing payment of the invoice,” Larcom said. “I told him we were filing a lawsuit.”
Larcom said city served Flore with the lawsuit and he did not show up for the court date.
Because he did not appear, Flore was charged with the $1,660 default judgement -- which he said he begrudgingly paid because he wanted to keep his liquor license.
The vote to remove the objection to The Arena's liquor license renewal is the last item of council business pertaining to liquor licenses in Ann Arbor establishments this year, said Council Member Jane Lumm, who sits on the Council Liquor License Review Committee.