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Liquor license revision underway

The Dickinson City Commission held its first public meeting to begin revising the city's liquor license ordinance on Monday afternoon. City attorney Haylee Cripe went through the ordinance line-by-line, allowing commissioners and the public to fl...

About 50 community members attended the City Commission's first meeting to discuss amending the liquor license ordinance. Photo by Ellie Potter / The Dickinson Press
About 50 community members attended the City Commission's first meeting to discuss amending the liquor license ordinance. Photo by Ellie Potter / The Dickinson Press

The Dickinson City Commission held its first public meeting to begin revising the city's liquor license ordinance on Monday afternoon.

City attorney Haylee Cripe went through the ordinance line-by-line, allowing commissioners and the public to flag sections that they had concerns with. Both groups could simply raise their hands to signal that they wanted a section flagged or could speak about their concerns with the particular section.

The flagged sections will be reviewed in subsequent meetings during which commissioners will hear community members' and stakeholders' worries surrounding the laws and the language of the code. About 50 community members attended the meeting.

"I think it went as smoothly as it could have," Cripe said. "I'm really glad that there was a full crowd for us to flag so many different items that there are concerns with, and we are really going to get a good comprehensive review, so I'm very pleased."

The dates of the meetings will be announced at a later date, but City Administrator Shawn Kessel said they would be scheduled on an as-needed basis-depending on how the discussion goes-and will be grouped together so similar subsections of the ordinance will be discussed on the same day. The tentative dates for the meetings are: Monday Nov. 28, Dec. 12, Jan. 16 and Jan. 30 - all at 4:30 p.m. at City Hall.

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Originally Mayor Scott Decker and Commissioner Sarah Jennings were going to head up a committee to address amending the ordinance, but they then realized how large the issue would be and how long the revision process would take, so they asked the other commissioners to take part, Jennings said. All the commissioners except State Rep. Mike Lefor were present.

"It really allowed for the public to hear the ordinance line by line and to express any concerns that they had with the current code," Jennings said. "I think it's really important to hear every line that we have in the code, so that when we move forward we know exactly where we need to look at."

She said that opening up the discussion to business owners and the public was important to the commission.

"We want to allow for a direct democratic process, so allowing citizens to be available and involved in public policy is really important," she said. "So for us to open the process to them I think we get more out of the difficulties and obstacles that they run into as business owners - that's a side we might not see."

The city commission has amended the ordinance annually for years, Kessel said. This complete revision of the entire code stems from both the general concerns officials hear throughout the year but even more so from Decker's push to address it in its entirety.

"I think President Decker definitely has some strong opinions on some ideas that he'd like to flush out with the rest of the license holders, and they along with some other license holders did indicate some desires to change things," Kessel said.

During the meeting, Decker said that the goal had been to go through the ordinance line-by-line and flag what needed to be discussed in future meetings. He said he thought they had accomplished that and looked forward to the public's participation down the line.

Kessel said that, so far, the response he has heard from stakeholders and the public has been respectful - just an expression of concerns.

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"This is democracy at its best," Kessel said. "I mean this is where the public gets to say, 'We have a concern about this particular ordinance. Let's talk about it. This is what we'd like to see changed.' And then this format that, I think, we are using allows that input to happen in a reasonable way, and we will see how the rest of these meetings go, but hopefully we've made the format conducive to discussion and less about emotions."

Related Topics: DICKINSON CITY COMMISSION
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