Willmar, Minn., City Council directs city attorney to draft tap room ordinance
WILLMAR -- The Willmar City Council has voted to direct City Attorney Robert Scott to draft an ordinance that would create licensing provisions to allow a brewery tap room.
The council acted Monday night on a Public Works/Safety Committee recommendation to have the attorney draft the ordinance in consultation with the police chief.
The committee made the recommendation after city staff received a request recently from an unidentified individual to create a new category of liquor license for brewery tap rooms, reported committee chair Ron Christianson.
The new category is allowed under a new state law.
Current city ordinance does not allow an establishment where the business sells only the beer that is brewed on the premises.
New state law says a tap room would not be required to meet the current city requirement of having significant food sales.
Current city zoning ordinance does not provide for brewery tap rooms in any zoning district. If the new license category is created, the Planning Commission will need to study the matter and amend the zoning ordinance.
Council member Rick Fagerlie asked for an explanation of a tap room. Christianson said establishments in Minneapolis and St. Paul brew and sell only their own beer.
Bruce Peterson, planning and development director, said current liquor ordinance requires that a liquor license be granted to establishments that serve a significant amount of food as defined in the ordinance and in relationship to providing alcohol.
A tap room would not be expected to meet the obligation of serving food because the establishment is nothing more than a place where customers go to a small brewery, typically called a microbrewery, and can sample only the beers that are produced on those premises.
"It's limited to that premise and only to the beer that's produced there,'' he said.
The committee's recommendation was approved on a voice vote.
In other business, the council voted to table a request from Arnold's of Willmar to allow the extension of municipal water service to the company's property, located just south of the city limits on U.S. Highway 71.
Current city policy does not provide for extending city utilities beyond the city limits. An Arnold's spokesman had said the farm equipment dealership is planning a major expansion to allow repairs to larger equipment but is required by state building code to provide a fire suppression system.
The company said the least complicated and most economical option would be to connect to city water. The water would only be used for fire protection and the company hoped the city would grant an exception to the policy.
The Public Works/Safety Committee had earlier voted to give preliminary approval to the concept of providing city water service outside the city limits.
But Christianson said he was informed the council needed to table the issue and return it to the committee for further discussion, and the council tabled the recommendation.
Mayor Frank Yanish asked why the issue is being tabled.
City Administrator Charlene Stevens said the committee's support was contingent on obtaining information from the city engineer and Municipal Utilities. Stevens said the utility, which provides the water service, and the city engineer have some concerns about this project.
Stevens said it would be better to have those discussions again with the committee and make a recommendation based on that information.