COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) – Columbus City Council tackled a number of controversial measures Monday night, each with the goal of making the city safer in one way or another.

Liquor licenses

Columbus City Council voted to object to the renewal of liquor licenses for 12 businesses in the city, leaving the final decision to the Ohio Division of Liquor Control.

City leaders said the businesses have histories of violence and other public safety issues. One of those businesses, however, spoke out at the meeting objecting to council’s move.

“If you take up this city’s resources by having hundreds of police and fire calls for service or someone is shot, stabbed, murdered, inside or outside of your establishment, this city attorney and this council will strenuously object to your operation inside these city limits,” said Columbus Councilmember Emmanuel Remy.

Council votes annually on objections to liquor license renewals provided by the city attorney’s office. According to the office, the list is based on establishments with violent histories, other public safety issues, and liquor violations.

“Tonight, for these establishments, this is another invitation to have a conversation with the city attorney’s office to establish safety protocol,” Remy said.

Council approved the objections to 12 license renewals, and of those 12, only Julep in the Short North had community members speak both in favor of and against the establishment.

“Julep is simply a bad neighbor,” said resident Donald Halpern. “The entire time I’ve lived there, I’ve had to endure the nuisance, destruction, and danger brought about by the surroundings of their patrons and the environment created by their patrons.”

Local bartender Gregory Coleman, 37, died in September after being assaulted outside Julep. Two residents who live nearby spoke in favor of council’s decision. Two people, Julep’s head of security and its general manager, defended the bar.

“Safety for my staff and guests has and will always be my number one priority and we have continued to be one of the safest bars in the Short North, regardless of what is being reported,” said Julep General Manager Kyle Teasley.

Remy said this is a long process, that conversations don’t end Monday, and issues can be resolved before there’s even a hearing with the state.

The 12 establishments on council’s list are:

  • Beechcroft Newsstand, 1935 East Dublin Granville Road
  • Doll House and Patio, 1680 Karl Court
  • Julep, 1014 North High Street
  • Mobile Mart, 2635 West Broad Street
  • Platform Lounge, 1058 Country Club Road
  • Queen of Hearts and Pelican Club, 5512 East Livingston Avenue
  • Speedway, 3304 East Broad Street
  • Spotlight Lounge, 1662 West Mound Street
  • Speedway, 6175 East Livingston Avenue
  • Sunoco, 2725 West Broad Street
  • United Dairy Farmers, 530 South Hague Avenue
  • United Dairy Farmers, 1680 North High Street

Gun Legislation

Council passed a measure that will change gun ownership in Columbus.

The ordinance bans civilians from having magazines holding 30 or more rounds, criminalizes straw sales, and penalizes those who are not safely storing firearms when they know a minor could access them.

Council forged ahead with the legislation because a judge recently issued a temporary block on state law which prevented local governments from making their own gun laws.

The Buckeye Firearm Association has called the move unconstitutional and said gun laws should be left up to the state government. The association said the Ohio Supreme Court has already ruled as such, stating firearm preemption prohibits cities from enacting laws regulating guns and their components, such as magazines.

In a statement released after council’s vote, the association said council is “blatantly flouting both state law and a judge’s order.”

“Columbus has no legal authority to pass gun control laws,” said Dean Rieck, executive director of the Buckeye Firearms Association. “This is settled Ohio law that has already been litigated up to the Ohio Supreme Court, which stated that preemption is valid law in all aspects.”

Councilmember Shayla Favor said the vote is not going to cure Columbus’ gun violence, but it is a step in the right direction.

“Columbus has not been immune to gun violence,” Favor said. “It has long plagued our city, robbing us of our most valuable asset: Our people. We have seen how gun violence has ripped through our communities, especially our youth.”

Flavored tobacco

Council discussed an ordinance that would ban the sale and distribution of flavored tobacco products within city limits.

Several of the city’s hearings on the ordinance have been packed houses, with people showing up to speak on both sides of the issue.

Councilmember Shayla Favor has been leading the discussions across the community, saying council is working to ensure every voice is heard regarding the legislation.

While the ban was discussed, council did not hold a vote, instead tabling the measure to next week’s meeting.

“We are hoping to host a town hall — a virtual town hall — with our young folks tomorrow to get their perspective on the matter and so my job as the chair of this committee is, number 1, to be transparent and to also provide an opportunity for everyone to be heard,” Favor said before Monday’s meeting.

Minimum wage

Council members also voted to raise the minimum wage for employees at companies that qualify for certain tax incentives from the city.

The increase is from $15 to $20 per hour.

The requirement applies to businesses that participate in the city’s Job Creation Incentive Program.