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Stark County Commission reviews approach to liquor license approval

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County officials are reviewing liquor license and adult entertainment laws in an attempt to be proactive toward population growth in the area.

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No formal requests for either have been made, but Stark County commissioners said they heard rumors about people wanting to build such establishments outside Dickinson city limits.

Commission Chairman Ken Zander said he would need to know details before he would issue another liquor license in Stark County.

"Is it a liquor license along with some form of entertainment concept? I couldn't make a judgment on issuing a liquor license until I've had a chance to see what that party's business plan would be," he said. "Location would be a primary concern too."

He wouldn't want a business selling alcohol close to residential areas or near places where children frequent, such as playgrounds.

Zander isn't fond of the idea of adult entertainment businesses in Stark County.

"For me, personally, I will have a very difficult time approving something like that," Zander said. "We haven't had anything in front of the county commission in regards to applications or anything like that."

Stark County State's Attorney Tom Henning said commissioners can limit liquor licenses as well as adult entertainment.

"If they say 'no that's it, there are more than enough outlets for alcoholic beverages for on-site consumption ... and we feel that's sufficient for our existing populace,' I don't see how you could challenge that," Henning said.

However, existing laws don't limit the number of liquor licenses the county can have per capita, he added.

Several laws are in place for adult entertainment. For example, massage businesses can't be housed where sexual devices are sold or where sexual videos are shown, Henning said.

Existing ordinances also restrict adult entertainment businesses to be in locations zoned for industrial use and they must have a conditional use permit, he said. Commissioners could pass ordinances to further restrict them.

"It's not a problem now, but its something we may want to put to a thought process," Stark County Commissioner Duane "Bucky" Wolf said at a Dec. 6 meeting.

Henning said he will have to do further research to determine how stringent commissioners could be with restrictions.

Commissioners recently reapproved four existing liquor licenses in Stark County.

"I'm sure that we'll have a lot of discussions about liquor licenses and other establishments as requests come forward," Zander said. "We'll try to make good decisions on whether we need more or whether we need to cap or hold those license limits to what we have. That will all be discussion we'll have in the future."

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