Hemet City Council waives recognized veteran organizations’ in-house liquor bar permit fees

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A round of applause followed the Hemet City Council’s unanimous decision to waive the conditional use permit fees for local veterans’ groups seeking to obtain beer and liquor licenses from their facilities Tuesday, Feb. 11.

The Hemet American Legion Post 53 made the request of the city to waive the conditional use permit fees for an in-house beer and liquor bar, so they could afford to have an open bar for members and their guests. The veteran post in-house bars provide entertainment and a major fundraiser or nonprofit organizations for U.S. military veterans and their families. The city fees for a public use facility, like a restaurant or nightclub could be as much as $5,000 in addition to the required expensive and limited state liquor licenses.

Even before the vote was called for, several council members shouted a motion and a second to approve the request. After discussion and hearing that the post was in the process of obtaining a state liquor license but found the cost prohibitive if a city conditional use permit fee would also be required, the council made the motion, and the resolution to waive the fees for “all” veterans posts in the city passed 5-0.

Normally, any business seeking a liquor license in the city would have to pay the fee and gain the approval of the state Alcoholic Beverage Control board. Most veterans’ organizations are easily granted the licenses if alcohol is not sold to the public.

A called-for council vote amending various sections of a zoning ordinance, updating the definitions of small and large family day care homes and permitting small and large family day care homes in the residential zones in compliance with a new state law that event did not fare as well.

“This is just another state mandated law,” Mayor Pro Tem Bonnie Wright said very displeased.

Senate Bill 234, adopted in the 2019 state legislative session, requires licensed family day care homes to be allowed without city permits in any zone that allows residential uses. The state licenses two types of day care homes: small family day care homes for eight or fewer children and large family day care homes for seven to 14 children.

The ordinance which is mandated by the state, the council learned, will remove the requirements for home occupation and conditional use permits in the single-family residential zone in regard to daycare daycare centers as the city earlier required and adds licensed day care homes as a permitted use in the multiple-family residential zone and the small lot residential zone.

“Does this mean anyone, anywhere in a residential zone could set up a day care center, even in senior communities, and have kids running all over the place,” one councilmember asked of the city attorney. City attorney Eric Vail answered, “See your HOA (Homeowners Association), but the answer is ‘yes.’”

A not too happy council voted 4 in favor, with Councilmember Carlee Meyer holding out by voting “No” to the latest state mandate.

In other business, the council voted to approve amending the city ordinance updating the regulations for accessory dwelling units that would allow more of them in zoned residential areas than previously permitted because of another state mandate on housing.

They also amended the ordinance regarding the standards for front yard fencing in the single family and multi-family residential zones. The amended ordinance will now allow wrought iron or other open fencing materials to be up to 72-inches in height providing the solid part of the fencing does not exceed 42 inches. Other fencing height restrictions do remain for other than residential zones.

Tony Ault can be reached by email at tault@reedermedia.com.