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The Minot City Council approved a process to move forward with issuing four additional liquor licenses, but not without significant debate.
Council members discussed at length how to best issue the four additional licenses, which would bring the city’s total of liquor licenses to 32. By ordinance, the number of liquor licenses in Minot is directly tied to the city’s population. With the 2020 Census listing Minot’s population at 48,377, four additional licenses are available to be issued, at the Council’s discretion.
Council members Stephen Podrygula and Paul Pitner questioned if the City should continue to limit the number of liquor licenses.
“I’ve never understood why we do that and what the rationale is,” Podrygula said. “I have a hard time explaining why the City would arbitrarily limit the number of a certain kind of business. We don’t limit the number of muffler shops or psychologists offices so why do we limit the number of liquor establishments?”
Mayor Shaun Sipma reflected on numerous meetings that were held in 2016 with many business owners who held liquor licenses at that time.
“Decades ago, when the city created a limitation, it in essence created a value on that property. Do we take away that value by adding more licenses?” Sipma said. “In 2016, what we were trying to gather is what are these licenses worth? When we came to the 2020 Census, one of the things we have to consider is are we going to continue to have these limitations, and if not, how do we deal with those valuations for those who were already holding a license?”
Council member Tom Ross said he would not support diluting the value of the current licenses by adding an unlimited number of new licenses.
“I’m just not going to vote for something that is going to penalize 28 business owners in Minot that have invested serious dollars into their business,” Ross said. “We’ve got four that we can approve and get out on the street today, and then if we want to change a liquor ordinance, let’s do that. But right now, I’m all for protecting the businesses that have already invested in the city of Minot.”
Council members voted 5-2 against a motion from alderwoman Carrie Evans to create a committee to discuss the issuance of the additional liquor licenses and develop a recommendation to council. The Council then voted 4-3 to approve the guidelines, with Pitner, Podrygula, and Evans dissenting.
While some details haven’t been formalized yet, the approved process requires that submitted bids must follow several specifications, including:
The annual liquor license fee is $3,125.