by TaLeiza Calloway
St. Joseph City Council members adopted a social-host ordinance Jan. 17. Elected officials voted 4-1 to approve the law that holds people criminally responsible for hosting events or gatherings where people under the age of 21 possess or consume alcohol regardless of whether the event’s host supplied the alcohol.
City Council member Renee Symanietz voted against the move. Under the vote that was taken, officials also approved a disruptive-intoxication law and a requirement for residents to apply for permits to have a keg at gatherings. In St. Joseph, no more than one keg may be located on a single property unit. The keg permit will cost $5.
The disruptive-intoxication law states no person, while intoxicated, in a public place shall conduct him or herself so as to be a danger to themselves or others and or engage in a public disruption.
Symanietz asked each ordinance be discussed separately but was overruled. She said she opposes the social-host ordinance because it can be costly to uphold.
“I am against underage drinking,” Symanietz said. “It’s just this puts people on the hook for other people’s children. I just think its not a fair law.”
St. Cloud has a social-host ordinance in place. In talking with residents and area citizens, Symanietz said it often comes down to the word of a minor against a property owner. She said she’s heard stories about the ordinance being contested and cities going to court.
“I don’t think taxpayers should have to pay for that,” she said. “Charge the minor for drinking, but if the person didn’t supply it, they should not be on the hook for it.”
St. Joseph City Administrator Judy Weyrens said the new rules will take effect March 1. St. Joseph Police Chief Pete Jansky said the next step is working with the College of St. Benedict/St. John’s University to get this new information to their students.
“We’ll be working with the college to get information on their listserv,” Jansky said.