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Pequot Lakes: Liquor license discussion ends in split vote - Council will contact affected before reconsidering

Pequot Lakes city hall

Before possibly changing its rules regarding off-sale liquor licenses, the Pequot Lakes City Council will first contact those affected by the potential changes, including churches and the city's only off-sale liquor store.

A vote to amend the city's ordinance regulating off-sale liquor licenses failed 3-2 Tuesday, May 1, with Mayor Nancy Adams and council member Mimi Swanson voting for the amendment, and council members Jerry Akerson, Scott Pederson and Randy Loukota opposed.

The idea to look at the liquor license ordinance arose after a resident asked why the city had an outdated ordinance. That question, and potential inquiries to open a taproom or a micro distillery in Pequot Lakes - which isn't covered in the city ordinance - prompted a look at the ordinance and suggested changes to update it.

The resulting revised ordinance the council considered would increase the number of allowable off-sale liquor licenses in the city from two to four (currently Super Spirits (Oasis Liquor) holds the only liquor license in the city), eliminate the required 500-foot distance of an off-sale license holder from a church, reduce the required distance from a school to at least 250 feet and eliminate the required one-third-mile radius distance of another off-sale license holder.

It would also add language pertaining to brew pubs, brewers, brewer taprooms, caterers' permits and growlers.

Pederson asked if churches and Super Spirits had been advised of the proposed changes and was told no. He asked how the 250-foot distance from churches was decided, saying the number was arbitrary. He said he was totally against the ordinance changes and had no interest to revisit them.

Loukota opposed the ordinance changes because he didn't think they were morally right, despite the potential economic benefit for the city. He said alcohol has negatively affected his life.

Akerson favored the proposed changes, but agreed with Pederson that those affected should first be alerted. He said he would bring up the issue at the June city council meeting after churches and affected businesses were notified.

"We just got in trouble for the park thing for not making sure all were informed, so due diligence suggests to me to inform people," Akerson said, noting he could support the proposed changes next month.

Pequot Lakes Supervalu

Pequot Lakes Supervalu was built eight years ago with plans to open a liquor store in the building's north section. However, store owners learned that couldn't happen because the building is within 500 feet of Gloria Dei Lutheran Church.

Store owners planned to request an off-sale liquor license May 1, contingent upon the ordinance amendment passing. That request wasn't taken up after the ordinance amendment vote failed.