Residents will decide whether Brainerd can issue more liquor licenses in the city.
The first step will be a public hearing Monday at the Brainerd City Council meeting. The second step, if public sentiment wishes it, would be to put the issue to a vote in November.
Brainerd currently has 12 available licenses, all of which have been issued. That means restaurants that serve alcohol and other bars cannot move to Brainerd.
It also means popular franchise restaurants like Red Lobster, TGIFriday's or Applebee's -- restaurants that serve alcoholic drinks -- might not wish to locate in Brainerd.
By law the voters have to decide whether more licenses should be added, which is why the Brainerd City Council would like the public's input on whether to put the item on the November ballot.
If the question goes on the ballot, by state law the city council can choose to phrase the question one of two ways -- either allow a set number of additional licenses or allow an unlimited number at the council's discretion. Either question can be voted down.
For the city council to put the measure on November's ballot and for the public to adopt the measure requires a majority vote.
Having more licenses may lure franchise restaurants to the city, but licenses could not be set aside for specific restaurants. The city must issue liquor licenses in a non-discriminatory manner, meaning more bars could be opened in the city.
At a previous public hearing the residents who attended and spoke were against the city increasing the number of liquor licenses it issues.
Some bar owners have also voiced concerns about more licenses.
"From a business owner's standpoint I would like to see no more licenses issued. It's already tough to make a buck," said Last Turn Saloon owner Tom Hofius. But he held a different view than some dissenting residents. "I have no moral objection to it (issuing more licenses), and I understand the need for Brainerd to attract businesses that appeal to the ever-growing population."
The number of liquor licenses Brainerd can issue, 12, is set by state law for all cities with a population between 10,000-20,000.
The city council could consider amending the city's liquor zone to allow only a certain number of licenses in the zone, said Brainerd City Administrator Dan Vogt.
Currently, Brainerd's major liquor zone is bounded on the west by the west line of Fourth Street South, on the north by the centerline of the Northern Pacific Railway Co. right-of-way, on the east by the east line of Ninth Street and on the south by the south line of Maple Street and the commercial district 200 feet north and south of Washington Street from the west edge of the Mississippi River bridge to the west city line.
There is also a liquor zone 150 feet north and south of Washington Street from the east city limits to the west city limits, and a zone that is essentially the Green Mill restaurant.
With such an amendment, the city could keep the downtown Brainerd area from becoming overcrowded with on-sale liquor establishments. The city could then create other zones for bars and restaurants.
Being a charter city, Brainerd is different from other governments. Baxter has no set number of liquor licenses it can issue -- licenses are issued at the Baxter City Council's discretion -- and no set liquor zone. However, on-sale liquor establishments must be in business or commercial zones, and must be 300 feet from churches and schools.
Crow Wing County also doesn't have a set number of licenses it can issue or a liquor control district. Applications for liquor licenses must first be approved by the township the applicant is looking to open an on-sale establishment in and the county board has to approve the application.
Here are the current on-sale liquor license holders in Brainerd:
-- 9th Street Bar.
-- New Winnipeg Lounge.
-- Blue Ox Bar & Lounge.
-- Tropical Nites.
-- Log Cabin Bar & Restaurant.
-- Iron Rail Saloon.
-- Shep's on Sixth.
-- Green Mill.
-- Last Turn Saloon.
-- Twisted Roses.
-- Pit Stop Bar.
-- Silver Dragon Restaurant.
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