Liquor Control Board - February 21, 2018 Minutes
LIQUOR CONTROL COMMITTEE MEETING
January 17, 2018 1:30 P.M.
Present: Commissioner Piepkorn, Commissioner Gehrig, Police Chief Dave Todd, City Auditor Steve Sprague, Grant Larson, Environmental Health,
Others Present: Rick Carik, Rick’s; Dustin Mitzel, Happy Harry’s; Dean Bachmeier, Buffalo Wild Wings, Melissa Rademacher, DCP; Arlette Preston, Downtown Neighborhood Assn; Josi Danz, Zambroz; Aaron Templin, Front Street; Brent Tehaven, Herds & Horns; Doug Murch, Comney Law; Dave Erickson, Bulldog Tap; Warren Ackley, Old Broadway; Doug Restemayer, D S Beverages; Keith Stensgaard, Sidestreet; Duane Litton, Duffy’s; Joe Burgum, Other members of the media, concerned citizens and other members of the industry.
Meeting was called to order at 1:30 P.M.
1. Commissioner Piepkorn called the meeting to order and asked if there were any additions or corrections to the minutes of January 17, 2018. There were no additions or corrections to the minutes of January 17, 2018. Moved by Gehrig, seconded by Larson to approve the minutes of the January 17, 2018 meeting of the Liquor Control Board all voted in favor, motion passed unanimously.
2. A. The first application to be considered today is for the issuance of a Class B-Limited alcoholic beverage license to Cash Wise Liquor LLC d/b/a Cash Wise Liquor to be located at 4985 Timber Parkway South.
There were no questions or comments regarding this application.
Moved by Gehrig, seconded by Larson approve the issuance of a Class B-Limited alcoholic beverage license to Cash Wise Liquor LLC d/b/a Cash Wise Liquor to be located at 4985 Timber Parkway South, all voted in favor, motion passed unanimously.
B. The second application to be considered today is for the transfer of a Class A alcoholic beverage license from Classic Foods, LTD d/b/a Ground Round Restaurant to FSB Associates LLC d/b/a Saloon to be located at 506 Broadway.
Commissioner Piepkorn questioned the proposed location of the bar, Sprague indicated it would be just north of the railroad tracks on Broadway where McNeal & Friends is located currently, Sprague confirmed the location was between the Empire and the Bismarck.
Chief Todd expressed concern about the saturation of bars in the downtown, having so many like businesses in one area could lead to deep discounting of drinks. Piepkorn said deep discounting often leads to consequences affecting public wellbeing. Chief Todd further commented this license would be changing from a restaurant-based business to one with a liquor focus.
Arlette Preston, representing the Downtown Neighborhood Association, read from a prepared statement. They are concerned with the number of bars in the downtown; she referred to a study that measures alcohol outlet density. She spoke about the work of the In-Focus group, specifically the balance between business, housing and arts culture and entertainment. We need to make sure we keep the balance. We want to avoid the Athens, GA scenario where they lost the balance and became saturated with alcohol establishments resulting in a destroyed residential sector. In the past downtown has seen drug dealing, confrontations and fights. They have spent the past two plus years working with the Police and the DCP/BID to fix the situation, they are making great headway. There are many studies showing the link between social problems in a community and over consumption of alcohol. We need to always be aware of the level of density of businesses that rely on alcohol sales.
Josi Danz, representing downtown residents and Zambroz, commented that 25 years ago downtown seemed to be all bars; through a slow growth process, we now have a strong mix of retail, housing and entertainment. We need to be mindful of our future, todays decisions will affect future growth. We need to continue to be welcoming and safe for everyone. Downtown is a neighborhood much like Hawthorne, Horace Mann or Roosevelt. The businesses depend on the residents; we need to understand the consequences of decisions made today. She feels more bars will detract from the quality of life. We have limited Police resources, we need to slow the process and think long term.
Commissioner Piepkorn said Downtown has become an attractive place to do business; however, he feels three new bars in a five-block area is too much. We know of several other existing businesses that have requested to open in downtown in the near future. Commissioner Gehrig said what he is hearing is we have too many bars in Downtown therefore; we should limit the number of licenses in Fargo. There is a problem with that, Downtown is only a small part of Fargo, trying to limit the number of bars in all of Fargo because there are too many in a small part of Fargo is stifling business opportunities. Some people think there are not too many bars in downtown. There are people that want to open new businesses in downtown. No one complained about the new taproom or the new brewery that opened recently. If we are looking at just bars that is too narrow, just downtown is too narrow. If there is a suggestion about how many bars there should be in Downtown, let us have that discussion. There may be a better way; we need to consider the size of the establishment, what is the occupancy, what are the number of police calls. These factors need to be considered to determine if we can sustain more bars.
Arlette commented she is not against adding licenses; the population has grown so it is appropriate to add the Z license. The concern is the location of the license, the size of
the business and the use or set up of the business. This license allows a full bar with no food requirements. Grant Larson stated the health and safety of individuals is always a concern, Mankato has had similar problems in the past. Joe Burgum commented we need to look at the type of license, and should be considering the square footage of the establishment, the hours of operation among the set of factors to consider in issuing a license. Ideally, we would be able to respond to new ideas. Warren Ackley said we do not want to go back to the setup we had along NP when it was dive bar after dive bar. The food component in many of our downtown establishments has helped. The A, Z and brewery licenses do not require food sales.
Downtown Fargo is a destination, increased activity is good but we need to continue to providing a safe and secure location. Downtown needs to be more than just bars. Dave Erickson, the applicant, said he operates other bars in the FM area without incident. This location would be a bar and grill with a full kitchen. This is not a new license just a change in location.
Commissioner Gehrig suggested uncapping the Z but make it for outside of Downtown only, in the past we created license for just downtown, let’s make one for away from downtown. Limiting license may have an unintended consequence that business people start new ideas away from downtown and make some other area the place to be. He said he does not want to deny licenses based on concerns of specific people in a specific part of town.
Chief Todd asked Dave Erickson if he would consider an FA instead of the A. Erickson replied the 50/50 ratio of the FA was too difficult to meet for this type of business based on his experience. He said there are many examples of multiple licenses in one block around downtown. Gehrig moved to approve the license transfer, there was no second.
Moved by Sprague, seconded by Larson, to continue the application until the nextmeeting to gather more information. (Business plan and floor plan, capacity and
number of bars in downtown). On a 4 to 1 vote, motion passed (Gehrig voted no)
3. Moved by Gehrig, seconded by Todd to approve the licensed premise expansion for Borrowed Bucks, motion passed.
4. Receive and file server training evaluation surveys.
5. Sprague mentioned public comment on the proposed guidelines for liquor license application background checks is available until February 23rd. There have been no
comments to date; the proposed resolution will go to the City Commission on Monday February 26th for adoption.
6. Sprague informed the Board that Fire and Inspections departments have reviewed the buildings that have been used for public gatherings listed on Class E permits. There are
three buildings that are not approved for public assembly and E permits will no longer be issued at those locations until the buildings are brought into compliance. If new locations are applied for, the permits will not be issued until Fire does the proper inspection. Licensees have been made aware of this change.
7. Melissa Rademacher of the Downtown Community Partnership was present to request the Liquor Board consider allowing consumption of alcohol in public at select DCP
events. Melissa said their goal is to engage downtown businesses into the DCP led events, for example Street Fair, how we get people to engage with our downtown
businesses. At the Corks and Canvas event, patrons are not allowed to take a drink from one location to the other, so they consume their drink before moving on to the next location. The goal is to create a learning experience, learn about the art, learn about the wine, and have something to eat. We want to enhance the experience instead of encouraging consumption; we feel if allowed to take the wine with them from location to location, they will cut down on the overall amount of alcohol consumed.
Consuming in public is happening at West Fargo Cruise Night and at NDSU Tailgating, we feel this can happen downtown at select DCP events and enhance the experience. Commissioner Piepkorn said we could learn from other communities, this can be a discussion point to determine how it would work. We need to work with the PD to set it up the right way. Melissa said they would look at collaborating with bars and restaurants; there would be no off sale. The alcohol would be in “to go” cups, people could have wristbands.
Chief Todd said he is excited to see the DCP coming up with new and creative ideas; we should be there to help businesses and not just the traveling vendors. In addition to this being limited to DCP events having wristbands and special cups will help control the event. We need to consider having extra officers. Warren Ackley said they have similar events in Sioux Falls. Commissioner Gehrig said it was a good idea; other parts of downtown or other parts of Fargo may want to participate. Moved by Gehrig, seconded by Larson to forward the request to the City Commission for their consideration, all voted in favor.
8. Grant Larson said they are requesting a revision to 25-1509 I, to clarify that food served in a bar has to come from a professional kitchen, even if the food is given away and not
Moved by Sprague, seconded by Gehrig to send the changes to Fargo Municipal Code 25-1509 I to the City Commission for consideration. All voted in favor motion approved.
9. Sprague said after last year’s mandatory meeting the Board discussed adding a penalty provision to the ordinance for failure to attend the annual mandatory meeting. Attorney Morris is seeking clarification on what types of penalties the Board would like. Larson suggested using a matrix similar to the swimming pool failure recently adopted. Morris said something like a $500 for first failure to attend, $750 for second failure and license sanctions for third and beyond. Gehrig asked that there be leeway built into the matrix, something like $0 to $500 penalty. Chief Todd said he would prefer no leeway but the Board could decide to waive the penalty. Attorney Morris will develop a matrix structure and bring back to the next meeting.
10. Commissioner Gehrig said we need to have a way forward in regard to issuing the Z licenses. He feels we should issue the licenses now and discuss downtown in the future. Commissioner Piepkorn stated we have an ordinance now and should follow it, three people applied and one was selected, we followed the ordinance as is written. Doug Murch, Comney Law, representing Firebox LLC, stated they acquired a license with the intention they would open a bar in the Meadow Lark building, they later decided not to go into the bar business and started trying to sell the license. Issuance of the new Class Z, while appropriate because it followed the ordinance, did affect
Firebox’s ability to sell the license. Issuing additional Z licenses would greatly affect their ability to sell the license. The rules are in place, we feel strongly the City needs to continue to follow the rules, it is difficult to plan a way forward if the rules change. They feel it is important to listen to the community the license will land in, listen to the Police as licensing will affect their department; every decision has a ripple effect. Dave Erickson commented the last time Z license were issued the ordinance was not followed, it feels like there is a moving target as far as licensing is concerned. Doug Murch repeated, creating additional licenses continue to affect the sale, businesses hate uncertainty. He also commented during the last Z license issue, one license was for North Fargo, one downtown and one far South Fargo, this time all the applicants are looking downtown. Commissioner Gehrig stated rules change; these licenses should not be commodities. Joe Burgum commented the City works hard to accommodate businesses but the license structure has become a patchwork constantly being amended to meet another business’s needs. We need to look at the ordinances as a whole; the ordinances need a complete overhaul. The current system has changed to accommodate businesses over the years. Many iterations of the license structure has created precedents and accommodations geared to the here and now and not with a long-term view, it is time to look at the liquor ordinances in their entirety. Chief Todd stated we tied the licenses to population for a reason, granting this request for downtown where there are already 52-license in not in the best interest, he is a proponent for sticking with the ordinances as written.
There being no further business to come before the Liquor Control Board, the meeting was adjourned at 2:46 p.m. The next regular meeting will be held Wednesday, March 21, 2018 at
1:30 p.m. in the City Commission Room.