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Ellsworth Village Board rescinds quota for Class A licenses

By a 4-3 vote Monday, the Ellsworth Village Board rescinded the ordinance requiring 2,000 persons per Class A license within the village.

The tie vote of the board was broken by Village President Gerald DeWolfe. He stated, before the vote was taken, he was in favor of removing the ordinance.

"It's a new millenium and I think it's time we move forward with this," DeWolfe said. "Removing this ordinance will help business here in Ellsworth and it will be a job creator."

The ordinance has been place since 1986 and Brad's Liquor has been the only local business with a Class A license to off sale wine, spirits and hard liquor. There have been several attempts since then to remove the quota limit and allow more businesses to apply for Class A licenses.

The impetus for the current attempt was the Ellsworth Co-op Creamery's desire to sell wine in its new store. The creamery, along with Nilssen's Foods and The Outdoor Store, also expressed interest in having a Class A license. All three establishments had people at the meeting to support rescinding the quota ordinance.

"I don't think it's fair the board has allowed only one licensee for all these years," Scott Gulbranson of The Outdoor Store said. "Competition will be good for business."

Brad Marx of Brad's Liquor defended the current ordinance, saying he could lose 45 percent of his sales if the quota was completely rescinded. He said he was in favor of changing the quota numbers or just allowing the creamery itself to receive a Class A license.

"Certainly, the board can change ordinance if it wishes to, but I hope they have the foresight and the integrity not to do so," Marx said.

Three board members opposed changing the ordinance: Dick Hines, Neil Gulbranson and Kenny Manfred. Like Marx, Gulbranson was in favor of amending the ordinance to allow the creamery to have a Class A license and said any changes to Class A license structure need to be thought out carefully before the quotas could be removed.

"Even towns near Ellsworth which do not have quotas have strict regulations for the issuance of those licenses," Gulbranson said. "Baldwin, for example, has lots of regulations attached to having these licenses. It's not a free-for-all nor should it be here."

For more please read the June 5 print version of the Herald.