Hearing results in liquor-license approvalAfter a “public evidentiary hearing” followed by a closed session Tuesday night, the City Council approved the license of agent, building and business owner John Peterson, for The Corner Saloon, 126 and 128 N. Main St., with two conditions:
By: Debbie Griffin, River Falls Journal
After a “public evidentiary hearing” followed by a closed session Tuesday night, the City Council approved the license of agent, building and business owner John Peterson, for The Corner Saloon, 126 and 128 N. Main St., with two conditions:
1)That he close for a five-day period of his choosing between now and Aug. 30; and 2) that if Peterson has future violations regarding the property, the city reserves the right to refer to Peterson’s past violations.
The legal sparring started when River Falls began the annual process of approving requests for all of the city-issued liquor-related licenses, which expire June 30.
Noticing that Peterson’s listed a 2011 citation, the City Council held off approving his license pending a legal review, which brought into question other citations.
City Attorney William Thiel represented River Falls and called Police Chief Roger Leque as a witness. Attorney Barry Lundeen argued Peterson’s case, calling him as a witness.
The letter of the law -- statute 125.12 -- literally held the points of contention, about exactly what violations or behavior warrants refusal.
The city cited two open-after-hours citations, one in 2004 and one in 2011; two disorderly conduct charges, one in 2003 and one in 2008; and an OUI (Operating Under the Influence) in 2010.
Participants established that standard bar-closing time is 2 a.m. on weekdays and 2:30 a.m. on weekends -- Peterson’s after-hours citations were timed at about 3:45 a.m. and 2:50 a.m.
Lundeen asked if there had been repeated problems at The Corner Saloon or excessive calls to police, but those records hadn’t been analyzed. He said his client had taken responsibility and paid the fines for the violations.
Lundeen said one of the after-hours charges had been Peterson and his father sitting inside. The other had been for a musician seen drinking from a bottle as he cleared out after a show.
Lundeen asserted that it had not been proven that Peterson sold alcohol after hours.
He also said one of Peterson’s disorderly conduct charges had not happened at Corner Saloon, and the other had involved motorcycle riders smoking their tires.
Lundeen pointed out that the OUI had taken place away from the Corner Saloon and later asked about all the charges, “None of these are criminal violations, are they?”
The attorney reiterated several times that the city has renewed Peterson’s license for nine years in a row, knowing about all but the 2011 violation.
“There is a substantial legal basis to say the city shouldn’t consider non-renewal,” he said.
A second close session ended late into the night bringing the first inkling of news about two companies in the Whitetail Ridge Corporate Park -- Interfacial Solutions and BioDiagnostics -- potentially striking a deal with the city to buy adjacent lots and expand.