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Commission hears liquor license concerns

In an effort to help an incoming business reap the benefits of an investment it made more than a year ago, the Dickinson City Commission said it would be willing to make minor changes to its liquor license ordinance — if it has a say in the matter.

At its regular meeting Monday at City Hall, the commission addressed a request from Oppidan Inc., the developer of Dickinson Town Center, where Cash Wise Foods and Cash Wise Liquors will be located, to change the ordinance to allow further extension of the business’ liquor license to accommodate delays in construction at the will of the commission.

“I think you have to look at this on a case-by-case basis,” Commissioner Klayton Oltmanns said. “When you only have a set amount of licenses, you’ve got to buy one when one becomes available.”

Dickinson’s city liquor license ordinance states that a business holding a liquor license must be open and operating within a year of purchasing the license. If this does not happen, the license reverts back to the city and all funds paid to the city by the business are forfeited. The commission allowed for an additional 12-month extension to be granted by the city administrator when businesses are attempting to open in earnest.

“Defining development is what concerns me,” Commissioner Gene Jackson said. “There’s dirt being moved — have they begun development? And if so, can those two spots that have a little dirt moved sit there empty for a long, long time?”

The project will be near completion when the liquor license is set to expire, Oppidan’s Jay Moore told the commission. It hopes to be open by October, but is asking for a six-month extension to provide a buffer to allow for construction delays.

“I truly believe our building will look in a similar fashion to what Menards is right now,” Moore said. “The building will be up, there will be a roof on it, there will be all kinds of equipment out there. The additional six months beyond that will ensure there will be a business that opens.”

Cash Wise purchased its on-sale/off-sale liquor license on Aug. 19, 2012, for $185,000, plus the yearly fee of $2,845. It was granted the 12-month extension when requested earlier this year. But after a venue change — the project was originally announced for the West Ridge development near Menards on the north side of Interstate 94 — the grocery store is not set to open until October 2014 at its new location south of the interstate along 30th Avenue West.

“Since they were the only bidder and they paid a premium price, I don’t know why we wouldn’t extend it,” Commissioner Shirley Dukart said. “I don’t think the building was all their fault. I feel we should extend it or change the ordinance because most of our projects are taking two years.”

There have been construction delays on several projects in Dickinson, Oltmanns said.

Dickinson has 17 on-sale/off-sale liquor licenses, needed to run a bar (on-sale) or liquor store (off-sale), according to municipal code. The licenses are combined and holders can run a bar, liquor store or both with a single license. Other licenses are available to hotels, restaurants and clubs; those licenses come with restrictions but are not limited. The city may add licenses as it grows in population or if a county-issued license is annexed into city limits.

Because of the limited nature of the license, the city put the 12-month limit to make sure the licenses were used and not held, City Attorney Matt Kolling said.

No official decision was made Monday.

Commissioners agreed that they would be willing to extend the Cash Wise license to accommodate the construction schedule but would like to have approval of such extensions.

City staff will bring a revised ordinance for the commission to vote on at a later meeting.

Landscaping eyed for State Avenue South

The commission considered safety options along State Avenue South between Diamond Drive and Eighth Street Southwest.

At its Nov. 4 meeting, resident Gary Zent asked the commission to consider additional safety features to protect his backyard from cars that may leave the road and crash into the residences along Eighth Avenue Southwest.

The commissioners like the idea of using landscaping — in the form of trees, hedges or both — as a long-term, aesthetically pleasing solution while using some type of guardrail as a buffer while the plants grow.

Zent came to the commission because a car drove into his neighbor’s yard in October, just two years after a car went through his own garage.

There is a dirt berm in place that protects the law-abiding driver from leaving the road, Zent said, but the issue comes into play when motorists speed down the open stretch of four-lane road.

The commission did not make any formal decisions.

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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