Businesses that serve or sell alcohol will have much more work to retain their liquor licenses after a violation than they have in the past if the Craig City Council approves a resolution that has yet to be drafted.
The city council has been discussing the matter for months.
Council members asked Tuesday night that a memo from City Manager Jim Ferree regarding other towns' liquor licensing processes and his suggestions for implementing those here but put into resolution form.
The request stems from an undercover operation earlier this year in which the employees of five Craig businesses were cited for selling alcohol to minors. When the liquor licenses for those businesses were up for renewal, council members were surprised that none of the business owners appeared at the meetings. The liquor licenses for three businesses with a violation have come before the council since the sting.
"It's partially our fault because we didn't tell them they needed to (attend)," Ferree said.
A policy change would, essentially, bring the business owners liquor license into question directly following the violation instead of on an annual basis and require the business owner to attend a "show cause hearing."
"Essentially a hearing would be held to determine why a penalty should not be levied," Ferree said.
The business would not necessarily stand to lose its liquor license but would be given the chance to show what steps it was taking to prevent further violations, Ferree said.
Those violations could include not only serving minors but other infractions such as the number of calls to the police department for fights, disorderly conduct, public drunkenness or noise violations.
The city has the authority to suspend a business' liquor license for up to 14 days or revoke it.
In making a decision, the council would take into consideration the seriousness of the violation, corrective action taken by the licensee after the violation, prior violations, the likelihood of a repeat offense, extenuating circumstances and others.
"We're all human and if someone makes a mistake and we bring them in here to discuss it and explain what we expect, I think that's great," Councilor Kent Nielson said.
Councilor Bill Johnston said the council's only intent is to get business owners to come before the council to show they care and that the violation did have some impact on them.
"I understand a liquor license is their livelihood," he said. "I don't underestimate the seriousness of that. I don't want to jeopardize any ones' livelihood."
The ordinance would suggest general guidelines on dealing with violations because council members said they understand that each situation is unique.
Christina M. Currie can be reached at 824-7031, Ext. 210 or by e-mail at email@example.com.
In other business, the council:
- Set a public hearing for Aug. 12 to consider a conditional use permit for a law office at 527 Taylor St. for Sandra Gardner.
- Unanimously voted to give Gillam Inc. a liquor license for operating Stockmen's Liquor.
- Unanimously approved the second and final reading of an ordinance to modify Craig Municipal Code sections dealing with firearms to conform to changes issued in Senate Bill 03-025.
- Unanimously approved the second and final reading of an ordinance prohibiting the use or possession of tobacco products by a minor in public places.
- Unanimously approved the final reading of an ordinance adopting the Model Traffic Code for Colorado Municipalities into the Craig Municipal Code.