Council to review liquor license policy

City officials express concern regarding businesses' lack of interest in process

A February undercover sting in which the employees of five businesses were cited for selling alcohol to minors has given the Craig City Council something to think about. And, after several discussions, council members decided it was time to do something about it.

The liquor licenses for three businesses whose employees were caught selling alcohol to minors were up for renewal at Tuesday night's Craig City Council meeting. The council voted unanimously to renew the licenses for Casa Loya, Bad to the Bone and Ocean Pearl, but decided to create a policy that establishes consequences for violations of liquor licenses.

Currently no consequences for violations exist on a local level and the council has the authority as the local liquor licensing board to impose fines or force a business to close for as little as one day or permanently.

The first thing the council will do is ask businesses with any violations to attend the council meeting at which the businesses liquor license is up for renewal.

No representatives from any of the three businesses on the council's agenda attended the meeting.

"If my plumbing license was on the line, I think I'd be there," Mayor Dave DeRose said.

City Councilor Tom Gilchrist said he'd like business owners or managers on hand to explain how the violation occurred and what the business was doing to correct it.

The council has done that once before with a business whose employee was cited for selling alcohol to a minor.

"I don't know about the rest of you, but I felt really good about that after they came in to talk to us," Gilchrist said.

Several others, including audience member Terry Carwile, said they feel more comfortable.

"It is concerning that the establishments in violation are not here," he said. "It seems like they view it as a perfunctory matter."

State law provides for the person serving the alcohol to be cited but city council members said the business owners should also be held accountable.

"I think it's still a black mark because the establishment did serve a minor," City Attorney Sherman Romney told the council. "I think the idea of making the owner accountable, at least to you, is a good one."

In most cases, a business is granted its liquor license renewal if the employee cited has been terminated or has complied with his or her sentence, which usually includes a fine, a donation to Grand Futures Prevention Coalition and attending a alcohol service TIPS class.

Grand Futures representative Cindy Grinolds said the TIPS training is being retooled to stress to employees that they are the ones liable for serving alcohol to minors.

Romney and City Manager Jim Ferree were instructed to research existing policies in other communities and report back to the council.

"Maybe (adopting a policy) is something we should consider in the back of our minds because we are kind of lenient and we're seeing a rash of these," DeRose said.

The sting was the first compliance check the Craig Police Department had made on restaurants. The employees of five restaurants were cited.

In other business, the Council:

  • Awarded a bid to Precision Excavating of Craig for $157,603.40 to begin construction of the Ridgeview Trail.
  • Issued a special events permit for the VFW Post 4265 for the Ride-N-Tie Rodeo July 19 and 20.
  • Waived the bid requirements for skateboard ramps based on Parks and Recreation Department Director Dave Pikes argument in favor of standardizing all the equipment at the Craig Skate Park to ease maintenance, construction and replacement issues. The city will spend no more than $29,400 for the equipment, which will probably be a half pipe.
  • Unanimously approved the first reading of an ordinance amending certain sections of the municipal code on limitations on firearms. Possession of weapons is not part of the revised ordinance. The ordinance will amend some city regulations to conform to state law.
  • Unanimously approved the second reading of an ordinance annexing property owned by Colorado Northwestern Community College-Craig into the city limits.
  • Heard the introduction of an ordinance that readopts the prohibition of public tobacco use by those under the age of 18. No action was taken.
  • Heard the introduction of an ordinance that adopts the updated Model Traffic Code. The code is updated about once every eight years and is used by local law enforcement officers and the court system for infractions.

Christina M. Currie can be reached at 824-7031, Ext. 210 or by e-mail a ccurrie@craigdailypress.com.

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