I'm writing to openly voice my concern with Bellevue Council's motives in a recent vote.
At the April 23 Public Safety Committee meeting, a Bellevue citizen and business owner requested that code be changed to allow for outdoor BYOB at her restaurant. At this meeting it was said information on this ordinance would be discussed at the next pre-council meeting. This citizen and business owner returned again to the May 1 pre-council meeting, where members of council told her it would actually be discussed at the next committee meeting several weeks later and requested that she provide examples of similar ordinances rather than ask the borough solicitor to do so. This change would affect two tables in Bellevue seating just four individuals.
At the May 22 Public Safety Committee meeting, a member of council then claimed that she was "not comfortable" voting on the ordinance -- even though she had been in attendance when the proposal was discussed one month earlier. Another council member mentioned last spring's alcohol sales referendum, which is ultimately separate from BYOB. Bellevue citizens voted to not allow alcohol sales -- not BYOB. The original business owner and citizen provided a petition with 488 names of individual customers who support the change and showing the desire for outdoor BYOB was beyond one vocal person. Ultimately, the committee decided that it still didn't have enough information to recommend the legislation to council.
The outdoor BYOB ordinance was added to June 26 Public Safety Committee agenda and the legislation was recommended to council. Coincidentally, without any public suggestion, a council member requested that the solicitor author a ban on open alcohol containers in Bellevue -- something we lack. I have asked the police chief if open containers of alcohol are a problem along Lincoln Avenue or anywhere else in Bellevue and he said there have been none. A request to amend an ordinance to aid a Bellevue business took 78 days for action but a sudden request from a member of council seemed to get immediate attention. Seventy eight days of research and discussion could have taken place, but the same sentiments and positions remained. Once again, a council member ignorantly compared last spring's alcohol referendum to BYOB, which is faulty logic.
As it currently stands thanks to this council, any of us can stroll down Lincoln Avenue with an open bottle of beer or a glass of wine. If you choose to sit down and grab a meal at one of two outdoor tables at [a restaurant] with either of those drinks, you are now breaking the law. I have every reason to believe this process was intentionally stalled, filibustered, and eventually defeated out of spite for the individual who requested the change. This citizen and business owner and her family have been vocal and engaged members of Bellevue for roughly 15 years and bringing many new visitors to our community with their businesses. However, partisan politics and personal contempt for those that publicly disagree with certain members of Bellevue Council seems to get in the way of serving the community. Way to go, Bellevue Council. Fear of the unknown now further handicaps our business district. So much for making it easier to spend our money here.