By Lynda Jensen
DASSEL, MN The concept of strong beer being served at Hojies Grill & Smokehouse was approved by the Dassel City Council meeting last Monday.
Hojies currently holds a 3.2 beer license, which is available to its patrons while ordering their meals. The restaurant is a candidate to obtain a strong beer license because it is an establishment that draws 60 percent of its sales from food.
The strong beer idea was informally supported on a split vote, 3-1, with the following in favor: Mayor Mike Scanlon, Bob Wilde and Bob Lalone; and Council Member Pat Haapala against. Council Member Alesia Warner was not present at the meeting.
The council doesn’t have official paperwork in place to deal with issuing strong beer permits; and therefore directed its staff to begin the process to draft what is needed. This should be ready by the next meeting, which means the council will have to vote again on approving the actual verbiage for strong beer permits.
During the meeting, the council approved a wine license to Hojies, since this step is needed in order to issue a strong beer permit.
It was noted that Thirsty’s can’t ask for the same permit, since it doesn’t receive 60 percent of its sales in food sales.
The action Monday didn’t come without a fair amount of discussion first, with council members asking questions of Hojies’ owner Craig Hagen.
Lalone asked Hagen what his reasons were for making the request.
“People think there’s a big difference,” Hagen said of 3.2 versus strong beer. He noted that it would help sales.
Hagen noted that servers under 18 may take the order, but not actually serve it. This means his business must always plan to have an 18-year-old staff member on hand.
Lalone asked Hagen if this meant Hojies would have to obtain dram shop insurance. Hagen replied that he had no desire to get into the strong liquor business. However, he is looking at expanding, and this would be a good time for him to add this service.
On-street parking discussed again
The council also discussed the parking ordinance, with resident Missy Johnson offering comments.
Johnson lives near Breeds Park, and has a horse trailer that is parked on the street there.
“I feel our police have more important things to do than be meter maids,” she said. She’s had trouble with children at the park who are “obviously unsupervised,” and thought that more time should be spent on patrols at the park.
“My trailer is not doing bodily harm at the park,” she added.
She heard that sheriff deputies were actually measuring trailers to enforce the ordinance, but this turned out to be one trailer that was longer than 28 feet that was pulling something else, which is against state law.
Scanlon noted that if Johnson moves her trailer frequently, that she won’t have any trouble. “It’s not a rampant problem; it’s just a few people.”
Preliminary OK given to Thirsty’s for patio
The council approved the idea of a back patio to Thirsty’s Tavern.
Thirsty’s turned in a premise plan to extend its service area into the outdoor patio.
Lalone asked many questions, such as how access will be controlled, whether there will be a small bar in the back area, if the patio will be raised, and other questions. “Did this go through P&Z?” Lalone asked. This was confirmed.
However, as a part of the usual process, Thirsty’s must comply with city ordinances and submit more information about the patio before it proceeds either way.
Odds and ends
In other action, the council:
• accepted a grant from the Public Facilities Authority (PFA) for financing toward the 2009 water tower project. The grant is 20 percent of the total project, or $88,166 of a grand total of $440,828; with the remaining $352,662 being financed at 1.283 percent interest over 20 years.
Lalone asked if the grant portion could be spent on other street projects, but was reminded by Scanlon that the city intended to use this portion to fund repair of the railroad crossing.
• tabled a board of review training opportunity, since it didn’t seem to make sense to train council members for something that was for the most part handled by the county.
Lalone, who has been trained in the past, commented that the city doesn’t have the authority needed if it wanted to take on such a task, and is severely limited in what it can do for property owners who feel wronged.
“You just end up being a punching bag,” Scanlon said.
Wilde noted that people who appeal generally go to the county assessor, which has jurisdiction over it.
• noted that bids are being gathered for a new pumper truck for the fire department, with the official reading of bids taking place today (Monday) at 11 a.m. Anyone who wishes to hear the bids obtained is welcome to view the bid opening.
• noted that the detour for major utility work along Third Street will be as follows: down Fourth Street, along Simons, up Second Street, and then back to Pacific for the residents on the southeast side of town.
An informational meeting, along with a PowerPoint presentation, is set for 7 p.m. Tuesday, July 7.