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Wendy Reuer, Published August 19 2013

Fargo commissioners approve change in liquor license ordinance

FARGO – The City Commission will no longer be required to consider how new liquor stores will affect existing businesses economically when granting a liquor license.

But that doesn’t mean the application that inspired the ordinance change will be approved.

Commissioners agreed Monday to change the ordinance that regulates what they must consider when granting or denying a liquor license. It no longer includes consideration of economic impact a new store has on existing businesses.

The change was initiated after Coborn’s Inc., owners of the Cash Wise grocery store, was denied a liquor license transfer in May. Cash Wise Liquor operators wanted to move from its current location at 4101 13th Ave. S. to an empty lot west of the existing Cash Wise grocery store at 1401 33rd St. S.

Commissioners will also be the final authority in determining if a new shop meets a 100-foot restriction between liquor stores and a grocery store, gas station or drug store if the liquor license owner also owns those types of shops, as is the case with Cash Wise.

At the time of Cash Wise’s application, owners of The Spirit Shop across from the Cash Wise grocery store opposed the transfer. They said the new liquor store would be within 800 feet of its store and could take away as much as 50 percent of sales.

“I know it would be a substantial (loss),” The Spirit Shop owner Havery Nicholson said Monday. “And in the long run, we’re not going to make it.”

Jade Rosenfeldt, attorney for The Spirit Shop, said Monday her client is not against competition, but does hope the commission considers the factor when deciding on licenses.

Rosenfeldt said the 100-foot requirement should be clarified so it is not left up to interpretation. For example, it could be written as 100 feet from front door to front door.

The commission unanimously voted to adopt the ordinance change on Monday.

After the meeting, Rosenfeldt said the vote was expected, but there is a silver lining for her clients, which commissioner Mike Williams pointed out.

Williams said although the commission approved the ordinance change that originated from Cash Wise’s application, it is not a given the commission will approve the transfer.

“There are other factors that need to be weighed,” he said.

Readers can reach Forum reporter

Wendy Reuer at (701) 241-5530