Motley City Council looks at options for restaurant dilemma

By Tina SnellStaff Writer

Ashlee Badger, who began seeking a 3.2 liquor license in October, requested a variance to Motley’s liquor ordinance, or an ordinance change, for her restaurant. The request was tabled in October to give the Motley City Council time to look at options. At Tuesday’s meeting, the request was again tabled.

El Loco Burrito, a Mexican restaurant slated to open in March 2013, is 496 feet from St. Michael’s Catholic Church. Motley’s ordinance states no liquor will be sold within 500 feet of a school or church.

But, the building that will hold the future restaurant has been a restaurant/bar in the past.

Councilman Duane Solga said, “The 500-foot distance limits the growth of the town. I don’t agree with the ordinance and am concerned with the distance. With our size of town, I am concerned.”

“The building has had a liquor license before, so the precedent has been set,” said Councilman Rob Sampson. “How can we accommodate (this request) and stay within the statutes without causing future issues?”

Clerk Treasurer Terri Smith told the Council the city’s ordinance was part of the basic codes and could be modified.

“The ordinance can accommodate just restaurants if we wish. It doesn’t have to accommodate all establishments,” she said.

Sampson brought up another option.

“We can use a conditional use permit with a public hearing, then add that wording to the ordinance,” he said.

Another option discussed was looking at each establishment on a case-by-case basis.

Smith will contact the city attorney concerning this issue and bring recommendations to the Dec. 11 meeting.

Motley City Council briefs

Other business conducted by the Motley City Council Tuesday night included:

• A public hearing concerning the 2012 unpaid utility bill certification list. Since no one attended the public hearing, the Council voted to certify all the outstanding bills, a total of $3,275.63 from eight addresses, to the property tax rolls. Another $100 was certified for outstanding mowing charges;

• Tabling proposals from Hometown Planning until Terri Smith, clerk/treasurer, looks at competitive fees. Hometown Planning offers zoning administration and land use planning services to communities on a contract or “as-needed” basis and has been used by the city in the past;

• Voting to accept the election results. Motley had 306 registered voters at 7 a.m. election day and registered 76 new voters. A total of 268 people voted Nov. 6, electing Nancy Nieken as mayor and Steve Johnson and Pat O’Regan  as councilmen;

• Voting to make the fourth payment of $194,848.70 to Feldt Plumbing LLC of Detroit Lakes for the 2012 street project. The city has retained approximately $38,000 of the $762,000 project to ensure the project is done to the city’s expectations;

• Accepting Mayor Nancy Nieken’s request to get the sixth – eighth grade students involved in creating both a city flag and a motto for Motley;

• Learning from Fire Chief Dave Greig that the National Incident Management System 100 and 200 training segments are not offered locally;

• Voting to  drop Mason Zetah from the fire department rolls due to lack of participation; and

• Voting to not waive the statutory tort limits, thus limiting any claim made to the city to $500,000.

The next city council meeting will be held at the Motley City Hall Tuesday, Dec. 11, at 7 p.m.