Ephraim Extends Alcohol License Moratorium

At its meeting on Oct. 11, the Ephraim Village Board voted 3-1 to extend the moratorium on accepting additional alcohol licenses to January of 2018.

The repeal of the state law on the referendum process for alcohol licensing last April means that municipal boards can now allow any type of license without a referendum vote. Ephraim placed a moratorium of six months on allowing any license other than those accepted by the April referendum, which passed before Governor Walker repealed the state law on alcohol referendums.

Board President Mike McCutcheon placed the topic on the agenda for that night after his discussion with Ephraim business owners who are now selling beer and wine.

“I heard, you know, we’re not really going to feel the impact of this until maybe the end of next year,” said McCutcheon. “I think we need more time to truly gauge the impact that the current licenses have. I am for extending the moratorium another year so that we would not be ready to issue any different type of alcohol ordinance or law until the first board meeting of January of 2018.”

The moratorium prevents consideration of liquor licenses, the retail sale of beer in places such as grocery stores, and temporary wine licenses for events in the village. Ephraim authorized temporary beer licenses at the referendum, but not temporary wine licenses. Dick Volkmann, president of the Ephraim Historical Foundation, opposed this limit to temporary licenses.

“The new referendum has the ability to, at a single event, license and serve beer to 225 people that want wine. I wouldn’t want our event forced out of Ephraim,” said Volkmann.

Board member Tim Nelson felt the motion to extend the moratorium of all additional licenses was too broad and disadvantaged groups like the Ephraim Historical Foundation.

“There were questions or requests for other types of alcoholic beverage licenses for nonprofits that were brought up and I don’t know if we’d want to throw those into the same bucket,” said Nelson. “I’d really like to wait and think about it when we said we would think about it. I’m just not ready to vote on that.”

Immediately after the vote, which Nelson opposed (Stollenwerk was not in attendance), McCutcheon addressed Volkmann.

“Dick, I don’t know what that means,” said McCutcheon. “We could come back and look at it. It’s passed, you just heard. We’ll try to work this out.”

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