Liquor Permit Proposal Consideration Postponed Until February
The Laramie City Council voted to postpone prioritization of the new liquor license proposals until their regular meeting on Feb. 7th after the motion to offer two retail permits failed on Tuesday. Nine parties made pre-application proposals in November and this is the second time the city council has decided to postpone a decision about awarding the two new liquor licenses Laramie has to offer as a result of the 2010 census.
Mayor Scott Mullner asked to be recused from all discussions and voting because he is part of a corporation which made a pre-application proposal.
The consideration of new retail liquor licenses first involved discussion among the councilors as to how many of the two available liquor licenses they would issue and what the criteria would be.
Preferences were stated to issue one, two and even none of the licenses available. Councilor Dave Paulekas stated that his preference was to consider one license at a time, which councilor Joe Shumway agreed with because of the potential for better proposals to come along.
Other councilors didn’t see the point in waiting for other proposals, including councilor Erik Molvar, “I think that we have more than two valid and beneficial applicants for the city and it doesn’t seem that there is anything to hold out for here. We have a good suite of choices and I don’t foresee the need to hold out for something different, especially given the fact that we have so many proposals from local business owners.”
Meanwhile other councilors did not see a need to issue any of the available permits.
“Of course I’m the one that votes no on all of the alcohol related things. When you live downwind from a sports bar and you have all these young people hot rodding down your street after they’ve had a few, you wonder why we need liquor at all in this town,” said Councilor Roger McKinley. “I prefer not to issue any more, but if I lose the vote, I do have a ‘Plan B’. ‘Plan B’ is to stall as long as possible. And the way to do that is, people that are going to make a sizable investment, it will take them longer to construct. Therefore we could save the life of a young person by stalling.”
Discussion continued as to the criteria of what would make a proposal worthy of being offered a retail liquor license. Based on argument offered by councilor Paulekas, it was generally agreed upon that an applicant should have a history of successful business, that the proposal serve something not available in Laramie right now and that they have not had a license in the past which they have sold.
The motion to offer two retail liquor licenses was ultimately voted on and failed on a 4-4 vote. Councilors Joe Vitale, Klaus Hanson, Karl McKraken and Molvar voted in favor of the motion while councilors Lee Kempert, Paulekas, Shumway and McKinley voted against it.
Once the motion that had failed, the council found itself in suspension because there was no longer a motion on the floor. No councilors brought up a reconsideration of the motion, so councilor Erik Molvar moved to prioritize the proposed applicants and then moved to postpone it until the regular meeting on Feb. 7th to ensure the council would address the issue of the new retail liquor licenses again.
A great amount of discussion followed among councilors and one member of the public spoke.
“Think about our community and think about the needs of our community and when you vote, think not about what you as an individual would like to see happen with these licenses, but what your constituents and the people that voted you into office would like to see,” commented Trey Sherwood, executive director of Laramie Main Street. ” I, individually, would like to see job growth and creation. But again, think about our community and what’s best for the citizens of Laramie as you move forward with your decision.”
“I’m not sure the needs of the community will be satisfied or not satisfied whether we give out two licenses or no licenses,” responded Councilor Vitale. “I’m for giving both, but I don’t see that as being a priority for us. I think the priority is that, if we’re going to give them out, that we put them in the hands of responsible, reliable, proven people that can handle liquor. That is what’s important to this community.”
Councilor Kempert said during the discussion that he did not think the process was one that needed to be rushed, “I heard what Mrs. Sherwood said and we’ve received one letter that expresses an urgency to do this. I don’t think we’re in any hurry to move this thing forward because I have not seen the urgency from eight of the applicants to get this thing off the ground.”
The postponement passed on a 6-2 vote. Councilors Hanson and McKinley voted against it. The next regular meeting of the Laramie City Council will be Tuesday, Feb. 7th.