Fargo's grocery store liquor law stands for now
Gehrig doesn't get second to motion to change liquor laws
FARGO — It looks as if the 1970s law to prevent grocery stores in Fargo from selling liquor in their aisles will stand for now.
City Commissioner Tony Gehrig couldn't get a second to the proposal to change the "100-foot rule" that requires any liquor sales to be 100 feet from the entrance to grocery stores, basically requiring a detached store.
City Auditor Steve Sprague said the rule dates back decades and first surfaced when convenience stores were just becoming popular. Commissioners were concerned about such stores selling beer or liquor and drinking and driving issues with such quick access to products.
Gehrig said West Fargo has more lenient laws, and because of those there is more business activity with grocery stores and off-sale businesses there.
He couldn't get a second to his motion to change the law, though.
Commissioner Dave Piepkorn said he would like to see it discussed more at the liquor control committee meeting first, with license holders and neighbors having a chance to comment.
The liquor control board forwarded the proposal to the City Commission for consideration, and at that meeting a week ago seemed to favor a change.
Gehrig added he didn't intend for liquor sales to be allowed at convenience stores.
Sprague said after the meeting that Target in southwest Fargo added a liquor business to its store, but its entrance is 100 feet from the main entrance.
On a related issue, Gehrig also couldn't get a second to his motion to allow more off-sale liquor licenses in Fargo, another proposal forwarded from the liquor control board. Currently, there is one license for every 10,000 residents, while he said in Grand Forks it's one license for every 2,500 residents.
All licenses are currently being used in the city, he said, perhaps preventing more business activity.
He said the one reason he heard for not having more licenses was that it would hurt existing off-sale businesses.
"We aren't in the business of protectionism," Gehrig said. "Competition is a good thing."
It's expected that when the new census comes out with Fargo's growth, more licenses could be added.