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Press Editorial: Time to change liquor license policy

Dickinson is looking at changes to its liquor license distribution policy. As it stands, additional licenses could not be granted until the population reaches 18,000, according to city ordinance.

It's time for this ordinance to go. Limiting licenses also limits economic growth.

If another license is made available, the city has no procedure to distribute it.

A number of ideas for who would get access to that precious license have been brought to the table.

One includes having license seekers submit bids. The city would then use the highest written bid as a place to start and auction off the license.

It doesn't seem like the right thing to do to take out bids on the license, auctioning it and awarding it to the highest bidder. This could keep away those trying to establish small businesses, as it seems logical that a larger business would have more money to play with -- thus, higher bids.

Beyond that, "What that does is recognize the fact that the highest bidder may not be the best bidder," city Administrator Shawn Kessel said. And he is right. A business with a shoddy record of say, paying taxes, police calls and other violations would not be the best candidate to get a license. Local businesses should be given preference. If they've been in the city for 20 years, they've paid taxes for 20 years.

A restaurant's primary function is not as a bar and there should also be some flexibility there.

Also, West Fargo's "issue them as they see fit" policy makes sense.

If licenses must be limited, Commissioner Gene Jackson's idea of implementing a lottery has merit.

Throw their names in a hat if they meet set criteria -- have their proper business licenses, fill out an application, don't have police run-ins on record.

It is undeniable that the population has grown, and along with that comes business. Without having a better idea of the population until census numbers are compiled, the city should not limit that growth.

Even without census information, the city is exploding. There is an oil boom that is bringing in hundreds of part-time residents. They may not be official residents but there are people scattered across the region living in tents and their friends' basements and hotels are busting at the seams.

These part-timers may want to sit down for a warm meal and cold drink after a hard day's work in the field. They are here spending money. Let's give them, and the full-timers, options where they can do that.

-- The Press Editorial Board meets weekly to discuss issues of importance

to the community.