FARGO - The Fargo City Commission has decided to change the ordinance governing B Limited liquor licenses, giving a break to the owner of LakeMode Liquors by soon making it possible for one entity or person to hold two of the B Limited off-sale licenses.
The commission voted 5-0 Monday, Jan. 28, to have the city attorney’s office write up the change to the ordinance, which had been created 12 years ago to encourage a broader pool of license holders.
That change will give a break to Jodi Plecity, the owner of LakeMode in The Shoppes at Osgood mall, who has been looking to get out of liquor sales.
Plecity declined to comment on the issue when contacted Thursday, Jan. 31.
Plecity began talks a year ago with Hornbacher’s to sell her store at 4265 45th St S. No. 121 and its license, City Auditor Steve Sprague told the commission. In fact, last October a request to transfer her license to Hornbacher’s was approved by the commission.
However, the LakeMode sale wasn’t consummated before the Hornbacher’s grocery store chain itself was purchased by St. Cloud-based Coborn’s Inc.
That sale created a problem. Coborn’s already held a B Limited license for a liquor store at the chain’s 52nd Avenue South location, and the city statute for B Limited licenses set a one license per entity or person limit.
Assistant City Attorney Nancy Morris said that the ordinance didn't allow for a waiver, but the ordinance could be rewritten.
City Commissioner Dave Piepkorn said he felt sorry for Plecity, “but I have some trepidation” about changing the city’s policy for one person.
Mayor Tim Mahoney pointed out that the city still has one B Limited license “on the shelf” that wasn’t being used.
That license had been held by Hornbacher’s for its Village West location, but was turned back in because Hornbacher’s had been intent on buying LakeMode’s license and location.
“If it’s not being used, let it be used,” Commissioner Tony Gehrig said in support of changing the B License law.
“I’m supportive of allowing this to happen. It’s no one’s fault. There’s nothing underhanded going on here,” Gehrig said. “Let the market decide where these go.”
After some debate, Commissioner John Strand called for the limit on B Limited licenses to be raised to two, which was approved.
Sprague said that the ordinance will likely go into place within six weeks.
The revised ordinance would normally be received and filed at the next commission meeting, with first and second readings of the ordinance coming in the next two meetings. However, the commission can also elect to both receive and file the ordinance and have a first reading at the next meeting if it wishes, Sprague said.