CASPER, Wyo. — The Casper City Council discusses loosening up some liquor permit restrictions during their Tuesday, Feb. 11 work session.
Following their previous work session discussion, City of Casper staff had a conversation with the State Liquor Division and learned that the city has the flexibility to loosen up some permit limitations under state law, should they so choose.
“One item that the State explained was that it was within the City’s purview to define what a location meant,” a memo in the council’s work packet explains. “For example, within one building there could be several floors, rooms, suites, etc. The City could define this one building as having several locations for the purpose of awarding catering permits.”
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Under Casper’s current ordinance, 36 catering permit can be issued to any person or location per year. Relaxing the definition of “location” could allow more permits to be issued to that building or business each year.
Casper’s current ordinance also limit Malt Beverage permits to 12 per year for any organization or individual or 24 per location per year. State law does not limit Malt Beverage permits to 24 per year.
A separate “Special Malt Beverage” permit allows public auditoriums, civic centers and events centers to receive permits to sell malt beverages for the period of a year.
“Previously, the state statute had several restrictions that narrowed the scope of [what type of location] would qualify to receive this permit,” the memo adds.
But the state removed these restrictions in July 2017, so could is able to set their own guidelines for such permits.
In regard to the permit limits, Councilman Mike Huber asked that City Attorney John Henley draft broad rules.
“I’m really kind of in favor of making these things as broad and all encompassing as possible,” he said.
Mayor Steve Freel noted that the city has more flexibility than was previously understood.
“It is pretty much open to what this council decides,” he said.
Councilman Bob Hopkins expressed some concern with opening up the rules to allow people to pull too many permits, saying this could be abused.
Councilman Charlie Powell said that he ultimately is in favor of “letting the market decide” how many liquor serving establishments are in a city. However, he noted that relaxing the catering permit rules could have unintended consequences.
“We would be de-valuing the existing licenses if there is essentially unlimited ability to serve,” Powell said.
But he noted that relaxing rules for the “Special Malt Beverage” permit could benefit places like David Street Station by allowing them to serve beer at more events.
Despite his concern, Hopkins said he’d like to see some proposals drafted up for the council’s consideration.
“Let’s draft it up and go from there,” he said.
While the council will explore options to relax some of the permitting rules, they may also tighten up rules pertaining to people looking to renew their liquor licenses.
Freel noted that a number of people have come in beyond the deadline to request license renewals.
“We had one more this week that came in and said, ‘We want to renew our license too,'” Freel said.”They are just going to need to go back through and reapply again.”
Council asked city staff to draft rules that would possibly create consequences for late renewal applications.