The city’s zoning policy that protects older neighborhoods from an influx of liquor stores has been retained on a split City Council vote.
Lincoln attorney Mark Hunzeker had requested the change, which would have reduced the space allowed between businesses that sell liquor and nearby homes and churches, on behalf of the Walgreens at 48th and O streets.
But the council vote retains what is called the 100-foot rule, which refers to the distance between a business that sells liquor and neighboring residences.
Hunzeker and supporters of the change pointed out Lincoln’s liquor zoning rules are inconsistent. Businesses that sell liquor can be closer to residential areas downtown and in larger shopping centers. Restaurants are allowed to break the rule.
In addition, many businesses were granted waivers to the 100-foot rule by the City Council until the council abolished the waiver system in 2004.
The council split 4-3 on the issue, but not completely along partisan lines.
Three Republicans -- Jon Camp, Trent Fellers and Roy Christensen -- voted to change the 100-foot rule.
Camp said changing the 100-foot rule would have “made everything equal around the city.”
But Republican Cyndi Lamm voted with the three Democrats -- Lerion Gaylor Baird, Carl Eskridge and Jane Raybould -- to keep the status quo.
Supporters of the 100-foot requirement noted that changing the rule would have made 650 sites eligible for liquor licenses.
Lamm said both citizens and neighborhood associations in north Lincoln urged her to maintain the current 100-foot zoning rule in order to protect older neighborhoods in that area of town.
Lamm said she was “representing the people in northeast Lincoln" with her vote.
The city-county Planning Department and council will likely take a broader look at the zoning rule to allow some exceptions, particularly for grocery stores, which need to sell liquor to stay in business, Eskridge said after the council meeting.
Open Harvest, a small grocery near 16th and South, wants to sell locally produced beer, but can’t meet the 100-foot rule.