May 28, 2015

Liquor law spurs debate


By Jerry W. Kram

The amendment of New Town’s liquor license ordinance to clarify that season licenses do not count against the city’s total of seven permitted outlets drew criticism from area attorney El Marie Conklin.

The New Town City Council approved the first reading of the amendment in April after Conklin sent a letter to the council pointing out that liquor license issued to Jason’s Super Value would be the ninth license in the city. The city issued the license last fall to Jason Tracy, who wants to open a liquor store next to the new 30,000 square foot supermarket he is building on the east side of New Town.

According to City Attorney Bill Woods, the city is allowed by ordinance to issue seven retail liquor licenses, along with additional on-sale only licenses for hotels with more than 25 rooms. The ordinance wasn’t clear about the status of low-cost seasonal licenses, such as the one issued to the Edgewater Country Club. The amendment that was approved on final reading on May 20 would put seasonal licenses in the same category as the hotel licenses, exempting them from the seven license limit.

Conklin said the council should not have issued the license to Jason’s Super Value. Woods maintained that the issue was moot because the liquor store will not open until later this summer, after new licenses are issued in June, and the amended ordinance will be in effect by then. Conklin also disputed whether the hotel exemption was actually in the city’s ordinances. Woods offered to show her the city’s official ordinance book.

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