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Dickinson passes liquor license policy

After months of discussion and drafts, Dickinson adopted a new liquor license ordinance during a City Commission meeting Monday evening at City Hall.

The ordinance, which takes effect immediately, adds a license to the city's movable pool and creates a bid process for issuance of any future licenses.

After local entrepreneur Jayne Ridl, who aspires to open a nightclub, located a section of city code stating another on/off sale license could be issued based on a population increase to 18,000, she approached the City Commission this summer asking it to consider issuing an additional license.

Several public hearings were held on the matter and multiple drafts of the ordinance were read before its final passage Monday.

During the hearings, multiple license holders expressed concern with possible license prices, stating it would be fair to put it out for bid.

Jason Fridrich, co-owner of Liquid Assets, feels a minimum bid requirement beginning at $100,000 is a fair move.

"That would be fair to all the people that have bought in the past," Fridrich said. "I know people even paid more than I did when we bought ours."

Owners of Liquid Assets paid $125,000 about seven to eight years ago, Fridrich said.

But, for entrepreneurs like Ridl, starting a liquor license bid at $100,000 is steep.

Ridl feels bidding baselines shouldn't be determined by past license purchases nor is the price conducive to an entrepreneur.

"Why would you want me to be in the hole $100,000?" Ridl asked during an October meeting. "It shouldn't be who's got the most money to start a business."

The ordinance does not establish criteria for a minimum bid, City Attorney Matt Kolling said.

"That'll just be something the city commissioners will have to decide at the time that they decide to issue an on/off sale license," Kolling said.

The annual fee for an on/off sale liquor license is $2,845.

While the City Commission now has the power to issue another on/off sale license, it doesn't necessarily have to do so.

"It's entirely up to the city commissioners at whatever time they want to consider it," Kolling said. "The ordinance says that they can issue another on/off sale license but they're not required to do so. It'll just be a matter of their judgment whether or not an on/off sale license should be issued."

If another on/off sale license is issued and the "successful bidder" does not open and operate an establishment within one year of obtaining the license, it will revert back to the city's ownership without refund to the licensee, according to the ordinance.

The license would also be non-transferrable within the first year of issuance.

"I think the Commissioner's concern there was they didn't want to issue this license out to the general public and allow one of the existing license holders to purchase that up and basically park it, to keep it close to the vest and not actually open up a business that would sell alcohol," Kolling said.

The ordinance also resolves concerns with a liquor license issued many years ago.

The Evil Olive Pizzeria & Bar purchased a license previously held by the Queen City Club and when the license was issued, it was done so by annexation. City code specified the license could not be moved to another location.

Adoption of Monday's ordinance now allows Evil Olive's license to be movable, adding a 16th license to the pool.