As of Wednesday morning, Madison had five three-way liquor licenses available for new businesses after the council unanimously approved the guidelines for the Riverfront District.

The guidelines were created and recommended to the council by the Madison Alcohol Beverage Review Committee. The members of this committee are Dave Ungru, Lindsay Bloos, Victoria Perry, and Dan Hughes, who is chair.

Council member Laura Hodges expressed concern that the public had not had a chance to view the guidelines for participation in a public discussion of questions or concerns. Hodges said she was worried the guidelines did not explicitly require the committee and council to consider community input when liquor licenses come up for renewal after one year.

The council, Mayor Damon Welch and City Attorney Joe Jenner briefly discussed how establishments are dealt with now when neighbors complain, citing noise ordinances and zoning rules.

Council member Katie Rampy answered Hodges’ concerns by reading an excerpt of the guidelines that she said she felt were “reasonably addressed” in the proposed guidelines regarding the inclusion of community input in the permit renewal process: “Granting of the license and the business activity will not be detrimental to the property values and business interest of others in the district.”

A community member asked the council if the guidelines had been posted or published anywhere before Tuesday’s meeting. He described the act of posting the content publicly as “prudent” for the city to do before requesting public comment prior to a council vote.

Council members and Welch explained that documents, like the riverfront guidelines, are available on request at City Hall, and that interested persons often do come by and request copies of such public documents.

The local guidelines for Riverfront Alcohol Beverage Licenses are available at

The city council approved the resolution for the boundaries of a Riverfront Development District in December and the rules and regulations for the district’s three-way liquor licenses.

The Indiana General Assembly created the licenses for riverfront cities because in some counties, like Jefferson, all the allotted three-way licenses for beer, wine and liquor are taken. The number is based on population. The council had to correct some math to ensure the local law would conform with Indiana State Code.

The guidelines require businesses applying for a license to reach $100,000 in annual gross food sales in the first two years they have a city-issued permit, to be open at least 275 days per year and meet other set criteria detailed in the guidelines.

The resolution was sponsored by Councilmember David Alcorn. Alcorn and Rampy served on the subcommittee.

Courier staff writer Tali Hunt can be reached at 812-265-3641 or at

Local Guidelines


Objectives and Criteria for License Allocation

The Indiana state legislature enacted I.C. 7.1-3-20 et. seq. (Act). The Act permits the Indiana Alcohol and Tobacco Commission (ATC) to issue liquor licenses (one, two, or three- way) (Riverfront Licenses) in the MADISON RIVERFRONT REDEVELOPMENT DISTRICT. The Madison Alcohol Beverage Review Committee (MABRC) will recommend to the Madison City Council and the Mayor of the City of Madison applications for liquor licenses they believe will strengthen the economic vitality of the riverfront district and the entire community.


The Madison City Council has determined that the creation of a Riverfront Development District, under I.C. 7.1-3-30 et.seq (Act) will help further the aims of the MABRC by removing barriers to development in 3-30 et.seq (Act) will help further the aims of the MABRC by removing barriers to development in the downtown district. Through the creation of this district, the MABRC will be able to attract additional development opportunities to the district, expand the tax base through additional development and create more opportunities for the people of Madison and Jefferson County to spend time in and enjoy the various venues present in this redeveloped district.

The Act permits the Indiana Alcohol and Tobacco Commission to issue liquor licenses (one, two and three-way) within the District, above the normal number granted to Madison. The MABRC believes that granting additional three-way liquor licenses within the District will enable the creation of new food and beverage businesses which will create economic opportunities in the area and will lengthen the useful life of the downtown district into the evening hours. The lack of availability of such licenses is considered to be a barrier to development.

The application process for a license within the district is $250.00 paid to the City of Madison

If approved, the liquor license will be $1000.00 for the year, paid to ATC.

Purposes and Goals

The City, through implementation of the Act, this Policy and of the Riverfront Development District, seeks to achieve the following:

1. Enhance Madison regional appeal by encouraging the location and operation of a diverse mix of restaurants and entertainment venues in the riverfront district.

2. Removes a significant barrier to Downtown development.

3. Provide an experience that encourages repeat visits by residents and visitors

4. Assist in reinforcing the existing physical fabric of Downtown to create a sense of place and gathering areas.

5. Provide opportunity for economic development, increase the tax base and create jobs.


1. The District will be geographically defined to conform to the requirements of the Act and as shown on the map Attachment A.

2. The District shall allow for the granting of 5 three-way Riverfront Development District licenses. These will be $1000.00 for (1) year. The Madison City Council will have the authority to grant additional licenses within the District by Resolution.

3. Permits are not transferable, not portable within or without the district and any renewal is subject to compliance with the terms of these local rules and any agreement negotiated with the City of Madison. The permits shall not be pledged as collateral or subject to any lien, judgment, property settlement agreement, or third party claim.

4. New or existing restaurant applicants receiving three-way licenses within the District will be required to sell a minimum of $100,000 in annual gross food sales

each year for the first two years. At the end of the third year the applicant must reach $125,000 in annual gross food sales. As part of the yearly license renewal, applicants will have to demonstrate that this requirement has been met at the location for which the license has been granted. The restaurant needs to be open a minimum of 275 days per year.

5. The Riverfront Application fee is $250.00

6. The applicant will comply with local application procedures as well as those required by the State of Indiana and the ATC.

7. The applicant shall maintain and be able to show proof of general liability insurance along with worker compensation insurance, acceptable to the MABRC


The recommendation of the MABRC will be based on the following general criteria:

1. Granting of the license will benefit the purposes of the district.

2. Granting of the license and the business activity will not be detrimental to the property values and business interest of others in the district.

Additionally, the MABRC will consider several other factors including but not limited to the following in making a recommendation:

The MABRC will consider:

1. The Applicant's plans to improve the facility in which they will operate and the consistency of such plans with the nature and architecture of the downtown area

2. The restaurant's ability to draw people to Madison and, specifically, the downtown area.

3. The number and nature of the jobs added to or retained in the Madison employment base.

4. The restaurant focus is to be on dining and entertainment experience rather than an alcohol consumption experience.

5. Financial and ownership strength, which may best be demonstrated by a business plan.

6. If existing, history of operation.

7. The owner's participation in Madison, past and present and the likelihood of continued participation of the owner in the future.

8. The location of the restaurant.

9. Any plans for physical improvements to the building/restaurant.

10. The expected timetable for work and business commencement.

Application Procedure

The application process is as follows:

1. Applicant will complete a Riverfront License application and submit to the MABRC

2. The Chairman of the MABRC will schedule a meeting of the Committee within 30 days. The applicant or their representative is required to attend. The Committee's action will be in the form of a recommendation, rejection or continuance.

3. If the application is recommended for approval, it will then be passed on to the Mayor and the Common Council of the City of Madison for approval in a public hearing.

4. If it the application is approved the Mayor and the Common Council of the City of Madison will give the applicant a signed letter to that effect.

5. Once action has been taken by the Mayor and the Common Council of the City of Madison the applicant will have 6 months to obtain a license from the state ATC. Should for any reason the applicant does not obtain a license from the state, that applicant may reapply to the Committee. It is understood that the ATC will not take action on this three-way Riverfront District Licenses without this letter of recommendation.