Liquor license change mulled

ALAMOSA — To accommodate Alamosa’s bowling alley and other similar businesses near schools, the Alamosa city council approved on first reading and scheduled for a March 7 public hearing an ordinance reducing the allowable distance from schools to establishments with hotel/restaurant liquor licenses.

The ordinance before council would reduce from 500 to 400 feet the permissible distance between a school and business holding a hotel/restaurant liquor license. The 500-foot distance would remain in effect for other liquor licenses such as tavern licenses.

Alamosa City Attorney Erich Schwiesow explained that the bowling alley, which is near the Alamosa school property containing the Ortega Middle School and administrative office, needs a new liquor license. It had a liquor license for at least 20 years but does not currently have one. He said the way distances are measured for liquor licenses is from the building where the license is held to the nearest property line (most direct pedestrian route.) That property line that includes the middle school goes all the way to the administration building, he explained.

He said statutes allow the city to exempt certain types of licenses and modify the 500-foot distance to a shorter or longer distance. In the past the council has exempted certain locations (Adams State and Trinidad State), but he said it made more sense to eliminate hotel/restaurant liquor licenses from the distance requirement. Hotel/restaurant liquor licenses are those where meals are served with the alcoholic beverages.

Schwiesow said he ran the idea by Alamosa School Superintendent Rob Alejo and received no negative comment.

“This is not a bar,” added Alamosa City Manager Heather Brooks. “It’s not a liquor store.” It would only apply to hotel/restaurant liquor licenses where food is sold. That would be the case at the bowling alley location, she said.

Councilor Kristina Daniel said she was concerned about the message the city would be sending the community by exempting an entire category of liquor licenses. “I want us to be thoughtful about that message,” she said.

She said she would feel more comfortable reducing the distance requirement, which is ultimately what the council decided to do, pending public hearing and final action on March 7.

Schwiesow said the distance between the middle school and bowling alley is 417 feet, as measured from property lines for purposes of liquor license matters, so reducing the allowable distance requirement to 400 feet would accommodate the bowling alley.

Councilor Liz Thomas Hensley said if the city council wanted to change this in the future, it could, and Brooks confirmed that this is an ordinance, so the council could change it.

Councilor David Broyles asked if the bowling alley could be “grandfathered in” since it had a license for so long, and then the city could retain the 500-foot distance requirement. Schwiesow said the city could not do that. He said the city could exempt certain types of licenses. He added that the city council could have renewed the license, but the deadline passed while there was a change in ownership, and a new license is now required at that location.

Other matters before the Alamosa city council on February 21 included:

  • The council authorized the city manager to sign a no-cost lease with Western Rivers for 185 acres it bought from Regas Chefas and will ultimately transfer to the city for more than a mile of trails and wildlife habitat along the river. The property would serve as Chefas’ public dedication requirement for future annexation. The city will lease the property while Western Rivers applies for grants, Brooks explained.
  • As a housekeeping measure the council on first reading (with public hearing set March 7) amended its ordinance regarding solid waste rates to include $25 for the 96-gallon commercial container, which had not been included in updated utility rates. The city has 77 accounts using this sized container.
  • The council found River Trece Three, consisting of about 20 acres west of Alamosa, eligible for annexation (such as at least one-sixth being contiguous with city limits; 40 percent of it is contiguous.)
  • The council approved an application to the Department of Local Affairs for $8,750 for LED lighting in the family recreation center gym.
  • On recommendation of Alamosa Fire Chief Don Chapman and Brooks, the council decided to sell Fire Engine #1, which has been replaced, to help offset the future costs of a new truck. Fire Engine #1 has a market value of $25,000-30,000, Chapman said, an amount that would help pay for a new truck in five or six years when the cost is anticipated to be $530,000-550,000.
  • The council approved an agreement with the Colorado Department of Human Services and Office of Behavioral Health for the Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion (LEAD) pilot program, a diversion program that will be operated through the Center for Restorative Programs to provide services to reduce offender recidivism. Brooks explained that the funding would provide “wrap around” services that include everything from substance abuse treatment to daycare and rental assistance. “This is a huge, huge deal,” Councilman Jan Vigil said. He thanked all the staff and others who put this application together. Alamosa Mayor Ty Coleman added, “It’s going to take the whole community for this program to be successful.”
  • Updating city ordinances to be more practical, the council on first reading (with public hearing set March 7) amended the city ordinance that formerly required performance bonds on projects exceeding $50,000 to remove the specific dollar amount and identify those projects through the annual capital improvement planning process instead.
  • Clearing up city ordinances, the council approved on first reading with public hearing set for March 7 an ordinance allowing the finance director to refuse to issue or renew, or to revoke a retail sales license and gives the business an avenue to appeal that decision if desired.