After a called City Council meeting concluded with a 3-1 vote to suspend the Waterclub’s license to serve, Ware sent a formal letter to Cave Spring City Clerk Judy Dickinson on Wednesday, July 11, vetoing the Council’s decision.
“I have decided to veto the City Council action of July 9, 2012, which suspended the alcohol serving privileges of the Water Club for three (3) working days,” Ware wrote in the letter. “The reason for my veto is that the punishment for violation of the respective ordinance was excessive given their violation.”
Ware said on Friday that he did what he thought was the right thing to do.
“In the meeting, I said an appropriate punishment would be to write them a letter of warning stating that if there were any further violations, we would suspend their license to serve,” Ware said. “There was really only one clearly proven violation, and it was the one they admitted to.”
The Council has 30 days to try to override the veto with a four-fifths vote.
Waterclub is owned by restaurateurs Jeff and K.C. Myers, and Jeff Myers said he thought Ware decided to veto the suspension because he was looking out for the city’s best interest.
“That’s great news,” he said. “I think the reason he (vetoed) it was because for two of the citations there was no concrete evidence. I think if he had decided to move forward on that, it would have created bigger problems for the city.”
During Monday’s meeting, council members Mary Littlejohn and Ken Landers maintained that on more than one occasion they witnessed the violation of three ordinances that state the restaurant cannot advertise their sale of alcohol outside, that customers cannot consume alcohol outside and that the restaurant cannot serve alcohol after 10 p.m.
However, there was no substantial evidence customers consumed alcohol outdoors or that the Waterclub served alcohol past 10 p.m. There was only speculation because Landers claimed to have seen wine glasses outside and Littlejohn maintained the restaurant’s lights remained on past 10 p.m.
At Monday’s meeting the Myers told the council that employees were still serving food to customers that came after 9 p.m. and lights also had to remain on late for employees to clean up.
Having lights on in the restaurant past 10 p.m. gives probable cause to believe alcohol is still being served indoors, according to the ordinance.
“The ordinance doesn’t say that you can’t be open past 10 o’clock,” Attorney Zach Burkhalter clarified at Monday’s meeting. “The ordinance says that if you are open to the public past 10 o’clock, then that constitutes evidence that alcohol is being consumed on the premises. It just creates the legal presumption that alcohol is being served in violation of the ordinance.”
K.C. Myers said Friday that the past four days had been a surreal experience for her and her husband, who were drawn to the little city of Cave Spring because of its beautiful landscape and water source. Cave Spring, she said, was also a great place for the couple to raise their children.
She was floored by the community’s support of the restaurant, she said, and since their business opened in February she and her husband had wanted to bring great, quality dining to Cave Spring.
“It’s wonderful to have the support that’s happening here,” she said. “I’m shocked it’s gotten to this point; this town really wants to see change, more and more. There are people coming out of the woodwork professing genuine feelings that they’re glad we’re here. In a nutshell, I’m feeling the love from Cave Spring.”