Montello Council will re-visit liquor license request

By Keri Solis
It was a packed house on Monday night at the monthly meeting of the Montello Common Council. The first order of business was the Rendezvous Paddle & Sports liquor license request. Last month the establishment had been granted the license under an exception that allows for liquor to be served by full service restaurants that have a seating capacity of at least 300 people, which can include outdoor seasonal seating.

While the request was approved by the common council last month, Rendezvous has not been issued a license yet. After the April meeting and the vote took place, it was found that proper procedures had not been followed in regards to posting and notification to request the license. According to statute, an application must be submitted at least 15 days prior to voting and go through the designated committee. In this case, License & Ordinance Committee would have to approve it before going to the whole council for approval. The license application also has to be printed in the newspaper at least once before being voted on. This was also not done. Since proper procedure was not followed, the license could not be issued.

Several questions regarding the council’s action last month were raised in a letter signed by 34 residents or business owners and submitted to the city.

The application for the license was submitted on March 25th  by Rendezvous owner John Hoffmann, so the 15 day requirement has been met. A special meeting will be held on May 20th at 7:30 p.m. by the License & Ordinance committee, at which time they will look through all licenses up for renewal, in addition to the Rendezvous request. This will be followed by a special city council meeting at 9:00 p.m. to vote on the Rendezvous request.

Also present was Gary Doudna of Buffalo Lake Camping Resort, who also wants a liquor license under the same exception that would allow Rendezvous to obtain a license. Doudna operates a full service restaurant and has outdoor seasonal seating capacity for over 300 people. While Doudna had submitted his request prior to 15 days before the meeting, his license application has not been printed in the newspaper or sent to License & Ordinance committee. According to an instruction sheet from the city Doudna had, the city was to follow through with sending the information to the newspaper and setting up the meeting with the committee. Neither had been done as of Monday’s meeting.
Mayor Mike Ott assured Hoffmann and Doudna that the license applications would be printed in the May 16th newspaper, and both requests would be voted on at the special meeting on May 20th.
The council will have to decide what type of requirements they would like to place on the issuance of these licenses. For example, they could specify where the 300 seats are located, or make a requirement regarding the bathroom facilities, or say the license can be used for a one-time event only.

In other business, there was also discussion on whether to stay a part of Marquette County Tourism group, or for the city of Montello to keep the room tax collected for its own use. There was previously expressed concern that the council had not received annual reports, and when they did, that they were hand-written. The biggest concern was that the books were controlled by one person and had not been audited since 2009. The city of Montello generates $4,500 in room tax per year that goes to the fund.

The decision was made to stay with the program and benefit from the amount of advertising done by the group as a whole, rather than breaking off and trying to promote Montello with only $4,500 each year.
Also in other business, the council decided to take no action on the concern that Bud Daggett has on his downtown property, in the event the new dam would have to be opened to let water flow out. Since water can flow out of the new dam at a higher rate than the old one, Daggett is concerned that his downtown office property could become flooded or washed away. The city was advised to either take a wait and see attitude or take out flood insurance on the property. The city chose to wait and see and will deal with any liabilities if and when a flood happens.