Gaylord’s City Council, on Wednesday, followed the Planning and Zoning Committee’s recommendation to not allow the establishment of an off-sale liquor store in the Hahn Development strip mall (Gaylord Commons) on Gaylord’s Main Street.
There was standing room only in the City Hall when the Planning and Zoning Committee held a public hearing prior to Wednesday’s City Council meeting. It was a unanimous decision by that group to recommend not changing a City ordinance, and therefore not allowing for the establishment of a liquor store.
The proposal to start a liquor store in the strip mall was presented to the City Council last month by Bob Ankeny of Blue Earth. He told council members of plans to put an off-sale liquor store in the center portion of the strip-mall. It would occupy approximately 2,500 square feet, Ankeny explained.
A City of Gaylord ordinance requires 500 feet between any church or school and a liquor store establishment. Since St. Paul’s Lutheran church is nearby, City Administrator Kevin McCann said the City’s ordinance would have to be amended to allow for a liquor store in the strip mall.
According to City Attorney Donald Lannoye, a recent Supreme Court case makes it essentially impossible to allow a variance for the request. The City would have to amend its ordinance, Lannoye explained.
The ordinance regulating the distance between a church/school and a liquor store was adopted in 2009, according to McCann. Lannoye said it is not an uncommon ordinance for cities. He said the distance isn’t stipulated by statute, but rather determined by each city.
Only those in opposition spoke at the City Council meeting. The common message appeared to be that it was not an appropriate spot for a liquor store and that the ordinance was established for a reason.
A church member said it was a moral issue because St. Paul’s Lutheran has hosted Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) meetings for more than 20 years. He also noted that the church hosts Girl Scout functions.
St. Paul’s Pastor William Nelsen believes there are sound reasons for the City’s ordinance regulating the location of liquor stores. “It is not an appropriate business for that location,” Nelsen said.
Chad Muchow, Pat Pinske and Carl Wetzel were the only council members at Wednesday’s meeting. All three voted to follow the recommendation of the Planning and Zoning Committee. Wetzel said he talked to a number of citizens who overwhelmingly supported leaving the ordinance “as is.”