Ellsworth village board again refuses to change liquor license codeA request to change village code and allow more than one establishment in the Ellsworth to sell hard liquor and wine was once again turned down by the Ellsworth Village Board at a meeting Tuesday evening.
By: Sean Scallon, Pierce County Herald
A request to change village code and allow more than one establishment in the Ellsworth to sell hard liquor and wine was once again tuned down by the Ellsworth Village Board at a meeting Tuesday evening.
By a vote of 4-2, the full board turned down a recommendation from the Health, License and Welfare Committee to change the current village ordinance which allows only one such liquor store for every 2,000 persons in village population.
Pamida store's manager Dan Washburn made this request to change the ordinance, saying that his store's sales would increase 15-25 percent if allowed to serve liquor. The committee recommended to the board to remove the population requirements to have a Class A license and also required that such sales take place in an enclosed and monitored area of an establishment.
Trustee Rick Sweig said it was time for the village to change this ordinance.
"We've basically given one store in this village a monopoly," Sweig said. "Why should this business be any more different or special when it comes to licenses? It's time to do away with this."
The store Sweig referred to is Brad's Liquors. Brad Marx the owner at the meeting defending the current ordinance.
"I don't have a monopoly here," Marx said. "You can get liquor in a bar and don't know of any place that has more establishments per capita to buy a whole case of beer than Ellsworth. But if this ordinance changes, then the big stores are going to get these licenses and my store will be out of business and those who work at it will be out of jobs."
Marx also reminded Trustees that when the current ordinance was agreed to back in 1987, board members assured him that it would not be changed. The current ordinance was changed from from one Class A license per 600 persons to 1 for 2,000 persons after the planned opening of a liquor store in an old gas station was protested strenuously.
Only Sweig and committee chairman Curt Wandmacher voted for the ordinance change. Voting against were Kenny Manfred, Dave Deiss, Neil Gulbranson and Dick Hines. Gulbranson said village needs to value Class A licenses.
"We need to give these licenses out to those who wish to contribute to the economic growth of the village." Gulbranson said. "The value comes in trying to attract new business to the village."
Deiss, who said he went back and forth over the issue, said he decided to vote no to keep the village inundated with liquor stores.
"I've struggled with this and the arguments on both sides are good," Deiss said. "I feel that we don't want to give these licenses away for nothing. And I just don't see the village being able to support so many liquor stores if we change the ordinance."
In other license matters, the board approved Class B retail and dance licenses for the Cheese Curd Festival, Polka Fest, the Pierce County Fair Pre-fair Motocross event, the FFA Tractor Pull and the Ellsworth Hubbers amateur baseball team, all unanimously.