Though no action was taken, the Brainerd City Council Monday is closer to deciding how the liquor license question will look on November's ballot.
The council leaned toward asking voters whether to allow the city to issue licenses without a set limit. If voters approve the referendum, licenses would be issued at the council's discretion.
Though requests for liquor licenses in the city haven't been abundant -- the license issued to the Silver Dragon was unused for several years -- the council decided it would be better to issue licenses at the council's discretion rather than have another set number that may need to be changed again.
"If it's adopted, we probably won't have a flood of people coming in looking for licenses," said Brainerd City Administrator Dan Vogt.
Brainerd currently can issue 12 on-sale licenses, all of which have been issued. It also means popular franchise restaurants that serve alcoholic drinks might not wish to locate in Brainerd, city officials have previously said.
Because of this, the council also asked city staffers to look into possible restrictions for new establishments. One would be to decrease the number of on-sale liquor establishments downtown, though existing establishments would be grandfathered in.
Having more licenses may lure franchise restaurants to the city, but licenses could not be set aside for specific restaurants. The city could, however, look at changing zoning specifications for its three liquor zones, limiting the amount of establishments in its liquor zones, or creating new liquor zones.
Other restrictions might be requiring potential on-sale liquor license applicants to have a certain number of square feet of restaurant space, or requiring a certain number of seats.
Any restrictions could be done by ordinance rather than on the ballot.
The city council is expected to determine the ballot question, and other possible restrictions, at Monday's city council meeting.
The council decided at its Aug. 21 to ask voters whether to add additional liquor licenses in the city. The city referendum question will be placed on the November general election ballot.
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