Council: Your business is welcome

Councilors say they will not prevent new companies from opening in Craig

Other action

At its Tuesday meeting, the Craig City Council:

• Approved a request from Randy Call, city Road and Bridge and Refuse Department director, to purchase a new three-wheeled street sweeper. The sweeper is projected to cost $177,902, which is $98 less than the city budgeted, Call said in memo to City Manager Jim Ferree.

• Approved a change order to the city's asphalt paving projects in 2007, when the city put asphalt overlays on certain roads, including parts of Ranney Street.

The city initially budgeted $250,000 for the projects, but asphalt was more expensive than planned, said Bill Earley, Craig Public Works director.

By using money from Colorado Department of Local Affairs energy impact grants and the city's alley fund, the paving projects were completed.

The Council approved a $38,798 appropriation from the supplemental sources to finish the projects.

• Approved an ordinance on second reading allowing bed and breakfasts to operate in high-density residential zones.

• Approved a motion to pay $500 to participate in actions by the Rocky Mountain Rail Authority. The Rail Authority plans to conduct a feasibility study examining the possibility of high-speed light rail along the Interstate 70 and 25 corridors.

Craig could be included in a spur that travels from Interstate 70 through Steamboat Springs.

• Approved a suggested priority list for road construction projects in Northwest Colorado to the Northwest Transportation Planning Region, which advises the Colorado Department of Transportation.

Two projects for Highway 13, totaling just more than $7 million, were ranked first and second. They were followed by a project on Highway 125 near Granby, then a project on Highway 139 south of Rangely.

— Early in Tuesday night's meeting, the Craig City Council asked the question, "Does Craig have enough liquor stores?"

The answer: That's not a question the City Council should ask.

Representatives from Elk Liquor Store, a new venture looking to set up shop in Centennial Mall, went before the Council seeking a liquor license.

The group had conducted a survey of the surrounding area, which the city of Craig considers to be a 3,600 feet radius from the proposed location, and came back with 130 supporting signatures and three opposing.

Mall property manager Vicki Hall appeared in favor of the liquor store.

It's important to show businesses that might want to come here that they will be welcome, Hall said to the Council.

Currently, without the liquor store, there are six to seven vacancies out of 25 offices in the mall, she said.

Christine Muzik, who rents the retail spot next to Elk Liquor's proposed location for her store, Spirit Path, also appeared in favor of the liquor license.

"I was for Wal-Mart and there's a Walgreens coming," Muzik said. "Those big businesses are coming because they project that there will be growth in this town."

Other community members expressed concern that a new liquor store would hurt other liquor stores in the area.

There are enough liquor stores for the limited amount of possible business, said Clyde Hettinger, Dark Horse Liquor owner.

"The state gives this board the authority to grant and deny licenses," Hettinger said. Because of that, the Council has the responsibility to make sure businesses are allowed to thrive and not suffer from overcrowding, he added.

Muzik disagreed with Hettinger's view.

"When we opened up Wal-Mart, you could have heard a pin drop in any other store in this town. Business is now picking back up.

"I think we need to look ahead of what we have."

Mayor Don Jones also read a letter from Patricia McCaffrey, of the KOA Campground in Craig, recommending the Council deny the license.

The letter read there were not enough customers in the area for so many liquor stores and there would be too much competition in that industry, Jones said.

In her letter, McCaffrey also worried that having so many liquor stores would hurt Craig's perception in the eyes of tourists, Jones added.

It is not the Council's job to say whether what the city has, in terms of businesses, is adequate or not, councilors said.

Any business that wants to open in Craig is welcome, as long as it abides by regulations and pays its taxes, Councilor Terry Carwile said.

The other councilors and the mayor agreed. They voted unanimously to approve the license.

"I believe competition is very healthy," Councilor Bill Johnston said. "I believe the consumers will tell us how many liquor stores should be in Craig.

"May the best liquor stores win."

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