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home : news : local   June 24, 2016

2/7/2013 10:30:00 AM
Manlius president resigns over liquor license dispute

Village President Gene Menard's resignation letter:

After prayerful and deliberate contemplation, I find it necessary to resign my office of Village President effective immediately due to my moral objection to increasing the number of liquor licenses available in our village. I cannot in good conscience affix my name to any ordinance which I firmly believe is not in the best interest of our residents and long-term well-being of the youth of our community.
Ninety-nine residents petitioned that we not allow any additional liquor licenses in our village.
The two existing taverns in our community of 350 residents provide adequate opportunity to serve the needs of our community.
We have no local law enforcement available to monitor the inherent safety concerns associated with liquor sales.
I agree with the trustees that we need retail and commercial growth to achieve a vibrant community but opening additional liquor establishments will not achieve our objectives.
I thank the voters of the Village of Manlius for the opportunity to lead our Board of Trustees and preside over the construction of our sewer system, waste water treatment plant and the improvements realized in our downtown area since April 2009.
Respectfully submitted this 5th day of February 2013

Gene Menard
Village President

NT Staff

MANLIUS — Manlius’ village government lost one leader Tuesday when first-term village president Gene Menard walked out of a meeting during a dispute over the number of liquor licenses the village should allow.
On Wednesday, Menard said he didn’t want Manlius to become known as “a town of bars,” like one small town with which he was familiar near Joliet while living for 27 years in Lockport. The 12-year Manlius resident and Princeton oil, fuel and lubricants distributorship manager has taken a stand against members of the board who would welcome a third tavern (or bar and restaurant) to the town of 350 people.
“The entire downtown businesses are going to be three bars,” he said. “You’ve got a total of 350 people. You’ve got two bars. They’re both hurting. Where are the new bars going to get their clientele?”
One of his worries is for a cluster of bars to become a magnet for out-of-town drinkers, who then would likely drive home over country roads or highways. He said currently, most bar patrons are local residents and can just walk home. He said there’s “no local law enforcement” and the town is far from the Bureau County Sheriff’s Office.
“Ninety-nine people petitioned not to have it. We do need businesses. I don’t think a bar is in the best interest of this village, especially with the youth and how they’re going to be affected,” he said Wednesday evening.
Menard said the village board has made progress in recent years, with the completion of a wastewater treatment plant, paving of streets, the pursuit of getting all residents to stop using their septic systems and to connect to the sewers and demolition of two buildings downtown that collapsed right after he was sworn in as village president three years and 10 months ago.
He said the petitioner who wants to open a bar, which she told the village board will serve food, is indeed fixing up a downtown building.
“She bought this building with the intent of opening a tavern and restaurant … the building was a total wreck,” Menard said. “To give her credit, she has cleaned up the building and put up a new front.”
But he says if she was running a “real restaurant,” it would be open already and she wouldn’t need a liquor license.
Menard said the liquor license issue was not on the agenda this week, but the issue came up in New Business on the agenda.
He said he believes board members Darrell Anderson, Tricia Johnson and Jan Williams were lining up to vote in favor of changing the liquor ordinance to allow an additional license. He said Joe Hunt and Donna Ericson appeared to be opposed, and Dawn Reglin, who he said does some work for an establishment downtown, would have abstained from voting.
Contacted Wednesday evening, Anderson said the board recessed and will complete the meeting tonight. He said the liquor license is not on the agenda, it’s just a completion and continuation of the meeting.
“Until then I can’t say anything,” Anderson said.
When asked what he thought of the liquor license issue, Anderson said. “No comment.” But then he added, “I’d like to see any kind of business. I don’t like to see buildings torn down anymore. Anytime you’ve got somebody coming in who’s going to rebuild it, you’ve got to think about it.”
Menard said he told the board “I’m going to make it easy on you folks; I have a moral objection to it. You can pass it, but I’m not going to sign it.”
He said he then turned in his keys and went home to type a letter of resignation to give to the village clerk.
“And I’ve got a clear conscience,” Menard said.

The NewsTribune Bureau County bureau office in Princeton can be reached at (815) 879-5200 or

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