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Commission debates liquor license change

In response to an anonymous proposal by an interested party, the Dickinson City Commission debated adding an additional liquor license class, one where businesses could sell only off-sale beer and wine.

Commissioners were slow to adopt adding a ninth liquor license class for a planned truck stop that wishes to sell beer and wine only in a liquor store-type setting at Monday's regular meeting at City Hall.

"The one that's being asked is a beer and wine for off-sale purposes," City Administrator Shawn Kessel said. "In other words, anyone who would become eligible would be able to sell beer and wine in an off-sale environment. The request has come from a potential building that would be in town -- like a truck stop or a gas station environment."

The city has eight liquor license classes, the most exclusive, an on-sale/off-sale license, allows for the creation of a liquor store or bar. There are only 17 such licenses available in the city, but the commission plans to add an 18th next year. This is the only license with a limit.

"We think, where the population levels are, we could issue another one and we were actually making plans to do that in 2014," Commission President Dennis Johnson said. "It's readily available in the city for those who are of legal age to purchase it and I think we have a pretty responsible group right now in terms of monitoring who they sell to."

The last license went to Cash Wise Liquors, which has yet to open a location in Dickinson but has plans to build in west Dickinson, for $185,000 more than a year ago.

Other active classes include a lodge or club license, which are non-transferable, a motel/hotel license, which has a minimum room requirement of 75, a restaurant on-sale license, which allows restaurants to have a full bar as long as food sales are greater than alcohol sales, and a beer and wine on-sale license, Kessel said.

There are three non-active licenses in Dickinson, a military beer and wine license, a restaurant beer-only license and a microbrew license which is tied to a restaurant license.

Commissioner Klayton Oltmanns was skeptical of the off-sale beer and wine license as he couldn't think of another jurisdiction that allows such sales in North Dakota.

"I know it's prevalent when you go to South Dakota -- it always strikes me, 'Oh yeah, you can do that here,'" Oltmanns said. "I really, for the life of me, can't think of another community in North Dakota that is offering this."

There are liquor stores within gas stations and convenience stores throughout the state, but usually with either a separate entrance or within a separate section, said Dustin Dassinger, Dickinson Police Department chief.

"I think this is uncharted territory and I think it's not going to be a good time for our community to go down that road right now," Dassinger said.

The commission took no action, but Kessel planned to speak with the project developer about the concerns of the board to find out their design intentions and report back.

In other news:

V The commission unanimously voted to approve the first reading of an ordinance that adds service wells to the city's existing zoning text dealing with oil wells.

"It's a clarification of what we've had in place that needed a bit more defined language for better understanding," Dickinson Fire Department Chief Bob Sivak said.

V The commission unanimously voted to approve the first reading of an ordinance to allow a homeless shelter to be operated on a temporary basis within the city limits, but with restrictions.

The shelter was operated last winter by the Dickinson Churches United for the Homeless in February and March.

"I'm very proud to be able to say that in Dickinson we're all working together," said Ron Dazell, associate pastor at Hillside Baptist Church and chairman of Dickinson Churches United for the Homeless. "It's not one or the other, it's everybody working together."

There are no fees associated with the permit as the city donates funds the group.

V The commission unanimously approved an ordinance to allow accessory dwelling units with restrictions to commercial buildings to help house employees.

Katherine Grandstrand
I graduated from Bemidji State University in 2007 with a bachelor's degree in mass communcations, from Columbia College Chicago in 2009 with a master's degree in journalism.  
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