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Wine, beer ordinance changes get first reading

By Staff | Feb 10, 2017

The first reading of changes to the City of Rugby’s beer and liquor/wine ordinances regarding package stores was approved Monday evening during the City Council’s regular meeting.

But the proposed changes were met with concerns from the current package store license holders.

Currently for Class B licenses, there is only one beer/liquor off-sale license for each 3,500 residents and one additional license for each 2,000 in excess of 3,500. The one license is currently held by Gryphon Liquors.

The proposed change would remove the cap on the number of Class B licenses issued in the city.

Gryphon Liquors owners Dave & Dawn Laughridge questioned the council on the proposed changes.

Dave Laughridge said that when he and his wife applied for the license 10 years ago, there was only one license, and if there was to be a second license to be issued then how many more would be issued in the future.

“Where does it stop?” Dave asked.

Dave asked if there was any way a wine only ordinance in the city could be done, citing places around the state that sold only wine on offsale. Ward 2 Councilman Gary Kraft said that when the city changed its ordinances it was unknown if a wine only license could be done .

“Why are you doing this?” Dawn asked. “How does it fill a need that is not already provided [in the city]?”

Ward 1 Councilman Neil Lotvedt said the council still wants “to promote business in Rugby.”

During the council’s January meeting, Rugby resident Ashley Berg submitted an application for a Class B license for a proposed boutique with off-sale wine in the building formerly occupied by HIIT-FIT Junction on South Main Avenue. The application had been tabled because the language in the city’s wine/liquor and beer ordinances were identical and would need to be changed.

Dawn questioned what would happen to Class B licenses that were issued to other businesses and those businesses later failed. According to chapter 8.04.160, the license can revoked when the licensee “ceases business at the location licensed” or is “adjudged bankrupt”.

Kraft said the current ordinances do not “allow for anything new” in terms of package stores.

City Attorney Bill Hartl recommended in January that both ordinances should be changed to accommodate future requests and that the Ordinance Committee approached the changes in a “rational way.”

“We probably really muddied the waters,” Hartl said in regards to regulations.

Ward 4 Councilwoman Sue Steinke said the city would need to have a discussion regarding ordinances in the future should a prospective applicant wish to open a winery or a brewery in the city.

Other action

– The council approved a resolution to award the sale of bonds from the city’s 2009 street improvement project to Robert W. Baird & Company, Inc. of Milwaukee, Wis.

– The council denied a raffle permit request from the Norsemen Motorcycle Club on recommendation from Hartl.

– The council approved 2016 year-end financials.

– The council approved a change in police department payroll from 40 hours per week to 171 hours per month.

– The council approved abatement requests from Wayne & Evangeline Gerig and Wes Miiller.

– The council approved a bid of $8,200 from Ken Mattern for the snowblower the city had on consignment at Northern Equipment.

– The council discussed a future overlay project for the frontage road along U.S. Highway 2. The city’s share of the costs would be 20 percent.

– The council approved January meeting minutes, bills, financial statements, Municipal Judge’s report and Rugby Job Development Authority board meeting minutes and financials.

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