Matt Gerding, co-owner of the Majestic Theatre, says his nightclub has buckled under pressure from the city to pay a $1,100 fee for encroaching into the public right of way, in part with its landmark marquee (see "City to Majestic: Pay Up or Else," 3/20/09).
"We had no other option," he laments, adding that the venue also had to agree to make this payment on an annual basis. "They said they weren't going to back down."
Ald. Mike Verveer wants to sponsor an amendment, backed by the city's Landmarks Commission, to limit the encroachment fees on landmark buildings. Says Stu Levitan, the commission's resident historian, "I don't believe there is any positive public policy served by charging an encroachment fee on a legally protected landmark."
Levitan is upset by City Attorney Michael May's initial resistance to this exemption ("Apparently you can fight city hall, but you can't fight the city attorney"). May admits he had problems with this change but says "we noodled on it" and devised a workable approach, which he expects will be ready for introduction "yet this summer."