Elkhart Lake puts hold on new liquor licenses for year

by Emmitt B. Feldner of The Review staff

ELKHART LAKE – There will be no new permanent liquor licenses issued in the village for the next year.

Elkhart Lake isn’t going on the wagon, but the Village Board Monday approved a one-year moratorium on liquor licenses “to study the relevant liquor license statutes and local ordinances to discern the best practices that govern the issuance of liquor licenses,” according to the resolution adopted unanimously.

Village President Alan Rudnick emphasized that the moratorium will not apply to one-day or event licenses, only to new retail licenses for stores, taverns, restaurants and other businesses.

“This hasn’t been looked at for 10 or 15 years,” Village Administrator/ Clerk/Treasurer Jessica Reilly said of the village’s liquor license ordinance.

Rudnick explained that one of the village’s class B retail liquor licenses had recently been surrendered by Braun’s Ranch, which means the village now has one license available.

“We’ve already had three or four requests for a liquor license, so we thought this might be a good time to review the entire ordinance. We believe we should take our time,” Rudnick told the board.

The village is limited by state law in the number of class B licenses – typically issued to bars, taverns or restaurants – it can issue.

That number is based on population, so Rudnick said it is unlikely that the village will qualify for any additional licenses in the near future.

Municipalities can also obtain additional licenses through action by the state Legislature, he added, but that can only be under certain circumstances.

Rudnick did note that tourism, the village’s main industry, is one of the factors that is considered positively in approving additional licenses for municipalities.

Liquor licenses are issued from July 1 of one year to June 30 of the next, which is the period the moratorium will be in effect. Rudnick pointed out that the moratorium can be lifted by the board at any time if it wishes.

The board approved the remainder of the requests from organizers of the 24th annual Elkhart Lake Vintage Festival in September, including street closures and police escort to and from Road America on Saturday, Sept. 19.

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