EL board keeps liquor license freeze in place

by Emmitt B. Feldner of The Review staff

ELKHART LAKE – The Village Board isn’t ready to lift the moratorium on new liquor licenses.

The board tabled a request to do so from Glenn Braun, owner of the now-closed Braun’s Ranch restaurant.

Braun pleaded his case to renew his license to the board’s Administration and Finance Committee Tuesday.

“I have three prospective buyers (for his restaurant building) but they all want a liquor license,” Braun told committee members.

The problem is that Braun did not renew his license by the July 1 deadline, as he had already closed the restaurant prior to that date.

He contended that he should be able to renew the license, but committee members responded that by not renewing the license on time, he had surrendered it to the village.

“This is not a party trying to get a new license, it’s a renewal of an existing license,” Braun stated.

“The opportunity for renewal was up until the deadline (July 1) and at that point, if the license is not renewed, it becomes expired and is the property of the village,” Trustee Pam Garton responded.

Braun told the trustees he had consulted with several attorneys who agreed he should still be able to renew the license.

But committee members weren’t buying that.

“Basically, I have to disagree with your attorney,” Village President Alan Rudnick told Braun.

“If you fail to renew your license by July 1 it reverts to the village. If we lift the moratorium, we don’t think it’s your license – it’s up for grabs,” Rudnick explained.

“We would have to open it for all interested parties,” Village Administrator/Clerk/ Treasurer Jessica Reilly added.

“I don’t think we’re in a position to end the liquor license moratorium at this point,” Trustee Richard Sadiq, who chairs the Administration and Finance Committee, told Braun. “Our dilemma is that there is so much interest and so many inquiries being thrown at us.”

“We can check with our attorney to see if our interpretation is correct,” Rudnick said.

Sadiq also questioned why, if Braun intended to eventually sell his building, he didn’t renew the license on time. “Why was the license allowed to lapse?”

“This is not just an arbitrary deadline, it’s state law,” Rudnick commented.

The board approved the publication of a public notice informing the public of an issue with the village’s drinking water.

Reilly reported that two tests last month showed higher than allowed levels of coliform in the water. Subsequent tests have shown the coliform is back down below allowed levels, but the Department of Natural Resources requires the village to notify residents of the occurrence.

The village has the option of publishing a public notice in the newspaper or sending individual letters to all village residents. The Administration and Finance Committee recommended the former as a less expensive alternative.

Village residents will see their water rates go up 3 percent next year after the board approved the increase.

Reilly said the village is losing money on the water service and the state allows up to a 3 percent increase in such a case with board approval.

“It’s to close that gap because otherwise it (the deficit) comes out of the general fund,” Garton explained.

The rate was increase 6 cents last year. The newest increase, which will take effect Jan. 1, will mean about a $1.25 a month increase in the water bill for the average household in the village, according to Reilly.

Rudnick reported that the Planning Commission continues to work on the site plan for the Wolf Motorsports development. The commission has recommended approval of a conditional use permit for the development to the board. The board will act on the permit at their Sept. 21 meeting.

Trustee Richard Baumann reported that the Tourism Commission was pleased with the street closing for the Vintage Weekend earlier this summer.

The Tough Mudder competition will be holding its second annual event in a fiveyear contract at Road America this coming weekend, Baumann added.

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