By Kristen Miller
COKATO, MN Cokato City Council approved a liquor license application for a second off-sale liquor store in the city during its meeting Tuesday.
Business partners Ryan Nelson and Todd Johnson of Dassel presented their plans for a liquor store in the strip mall at 500 West Cokato Street (Highway 12) during a public hearing.
Their plan is to utilize the 2,200 square-feet that is empty now so they can open this fall yet and will work on renovating the remaining 1,000 square feet so that it’s completed for the fishing opener in May.
Johnson said the goal is to go above and beyond a liquor store and have a wine- and beer-tasting room for events.
Council Member Jesse Bunker asked about parking, and Johnson said he thinks there will be enough, especially for day-to-day operations, adding that there is also a parking lot in the back of the building.
In regards to signage, Johnson said there would be a uniform sign that would include Cokato Wine and Spirits, as well as the other businesses that are located in the strip mall.
He also discussed plans on having awnings installed on each of the windows so that it’s “really attractive on Highway 12.”
Shannon Miller works at Niesen’s Liquor Store downtown and expressed her concerns to the council about two stores competing for business in a small town.
She was concerned that the competition would affect her job and those of her fellow employees. “I’m worried about losing my job,” she told the council.
When it came time to take action, Bunker commented that he sees no reason why the liquor application shouldn’t be approved. “It would be nice to have tastings once in a while,” he commented.
Johnson said competition is good and that they are looking to bring something more, including a greater selection of wine and imported beers. Competition was also questioned when he opened Cokato Parts City and the city has been able to support two auto parts stores (NAPA).
With a unanimous vote, the council approved the application.
Sunday liquor discussion
With Sunday liquor passing by 126 votes, the council discussed the steps going forward.
The city will have to rewrite the liquor ordinance to include Sunday liquor as a new type of license and amend the fee schedule. By state law, the maximum annual amount of the fee is limited to $200.
Council Member Butch Amundsen suggested the council include hours in the ordinance that would allow establishments to remain open until 1 a.m. in case New Year’s Eve lands on a Sunday.
In addition, the council approved keeping the on-sale liquor license fee set at $2,000, and will be added to the fee schedule, which will be reviewed at the next council meeting.
The fee schedule and ordinance will be adopted at the Dec. 10 council meeting so that it’s effective Jan. 1, 2013.
Odds and ends
In other business, the council:
• approved a proposal to extend its contract for five years with Waste Management for trash and recycling services.
Service base rates for 2013 are $10.41 for 32 gallons, $11.12 for 64 gallons, $12.14 for 96 gallons, and $8.06 for seniors. A 64-gallon single-sort cart is $3.09, and is picked up every week. Schedules can be obtained at city hall.
• announced the winter parking ban in which no vehicle can park on any city street from 2 to 6 a.m., effective Nov. 15 to April 1.
• approved to keep the on-sale liquor license fee set at $2,000, and will be added to the fee schedule, which will be reviewed at the next council meeting.
• approved the trade-in of the fire department’s 1985 Ford truck and purchase of a 2013 Chevrolet Silverado crew cab for $25,200. The department received two bids from Cokato businesses and the price difference was $329.
• approved a quote of $102,546 from Juul Contracting for the sewer and water extension and looping north from Prairie Avenue, east along the south side of his property, and then north along the Highway 12 right-of-way. This will service Cars By Andy and the future development by David Mages, and improve water pressure.
• approved the following rink attendants Gail Schulte, Kambria Raisanen, and Jeff Salmela. Jeremy Quaas and Ryan Kisor will be on call.
• approved revenue bond refunding as requested by Cokato Charitable Trust (CCT). It was noted that the city has no liability for these bonds, which will solely benefit CCT and it would not negatively affect the city’s bonding authority if CCT were to default.
• approved a recommendation by planning and zoning for a lot split that will allow land sale of 20 feet of property at 155 Broadway Avenue South to the adjacent land owner at 175 First Street East.
• set the truth in taxation hearing for Monday, Dec. 10 at 7 p.m. in conjunction with the council meeting.