A challenge to the city’s ban on underage patrons at bars in the Chippewa entertainment district stumbled this week when a judge denied a request that the city lift the ban while the case plays out in court.
Two Chippewa bar owners and an individual brought a suit against the city, challenging its policy of prohibiting individuals ages 18 to 20 in bars around Chippewa Street.
The plaintiffs – bar owners Daniel Valentine of Lux and Adam March of Bayou, and 19-year-old Colin Miller – asked the city to lift the ban and allow younger patrons to visit the bars while the legal challenge was decided in court, but State Supreme Court Justice James H. Dillon denied that request.
The plaintiffs will appeal that decision, attorney Elizabeth A. Holmes said Thursday.
The city saw a victory in the decision, in that the initial attempt to stop the ordinance was unsuccessful.
“We’re well positioned in the litigation,” said Corporation Counsel Timothy A. Ball. The parties are due back in court April 9.
The city had allowed younger patrons in Chippewa bars on Thursdays, but that policy, known as commingling, ended in October, and it was not renewed in the Common Council.
“The motivation was always, has always, been about public safety,” said Ellicott Council Member Darius G. Pridgen. “It was never intended to take away anyone’s rights, it was intended to keep people alive and safe.”
Bars can ask the city to allow commingling on certain nights, and the Council reviews these applications.
Pridgen, who represents Chippewa, has been approving these applications and allowing the Brown administration to deny them if it sees fit.
The Council cannot know whether the Police Department will have the staff to adequately patrol the area on a given night, but the administration does, Pridgen said.
The administration and Council are working on a better way for the applications to flow through City Hall,he said.