Scratch’s liquor bid revitalized

LISBON — The plan to help a new restaurant in town obtain a liquor license is back on track.

Mayor Joe Morenz reported at Tuesday’s village council meeting that Anthony Sylvester has formally requested permission to seek a state revitalization district designation for the downtown, which would enable Scratch owner Jason Geissinger to seek a liquor license for his restaurant if the application is approved by the Ohio Department of Commerce.

The action comes seven weeks after council was forced to rescind legislation it passed giving Geissinger the formal approval he needed to proceed with plans to have the downtown designated a state revitalization district. Council changed course after resident Herb Chesney pointed out the application has to be made by a building owner in the proposed district, and Sylvester owns the building on South Market Street that houses Scratch. Geissinger is leasing the storefront for his restaurant.

Geissinger, who wants the designation because it would allow him to apply for a state liquor license, filed the original application with Morenz in April. After holding the required public hearing, council approved his request, which is needed before it can be submitted to the state for consideration. A week later Chesney contacted the Journal and village officials to point out the law requires the property owner be the applicant.

Morenz said Sylvester’s letter seeking council action is identical to the one filed by Geissinger, and the proposed revitalization district boundaries are also the same: bordered by Chestnut and Washington streets to the north and south and Jefferson and Beaver streets to the east and west.

State law allows one new liquor license to be issued for every five acres within a revitalization district, and Lisbon’s proposed district would encompass 13 acres. Districts must include restaurants, retail shopping, museums and entertainment. Liquor licenses for districts can only go to businesses that derive at least 75 percent of its business from meals.

Council agreed to hold the required public hearing on Sylvester’s request at 6 p.m. Sept. 26.