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Jacksonport Denies Liquor License to Cheesemaker

The Town of Jacksonport decided at its Jan. 24 meeting that there are too many future opportunities within the town to sell one of its three reserve liquor licenses to a business owner in the Town of Egg Harbor.

Mike Brennenstuhl of Door Artisan Cheese, a new business taking shape on Hwy. 42 across from Wood Orchard Market, has been seeking a liquor license for the restaurant component of the operation. He first went to the Town of Sevastopol, which holds three liquor licenses in reserve.

Shortly after the town announced it would sell one of its licenses for $100,000, Brennenstuhl learned that Jacksonport also had three licenses. While attending a town board meeting, Brennenstuhl was asked what he would pay for the license and he responded $50,000. He then withdrew his application for the Sevastopol license and asked Jacksonport to consider selling him a license.

The request first went to the town’s Plan Commission. Lisa Bieri, a Plan Commission member, told the town board there was a lot of discussion about the request and just what a fair value would be for the license. She said the commission voted 4-1 in favor of selling the license with the following conditions: it not sell for less than $50,000; the money be used for town infrastructure; no more licenses be sold outside the town.

Tim Bley, a town supervisor who also serves on the Plan Commission, said he knows a campground is being planned for the town, and the owners of that are interested in one of the town’s liquor licenses.

Town Chair Randy Halstead said there is also a theater group exploring opening a dinner theater, and they are interested in obtaining a liquor license.

Town board member Tom Wilson said people started coming out of the woodwork once it was known that the town was holding onto three liquor licenses. “I don’t think we really understood what we had before,” he said.

Both Sevastopol and Jacksonport referenced the sale of a liquor license to Horseshoe Bay Golf Club in 1999 that went for $50,000. Halstead said in today’s dollars, that would be between $72,000 and $77,000.

Bley said he didn’t think it should be sold for any less than $80,000.

Bieri said although she voted in favor of selling the license as a member of the Plan Commission, “Taking my Plan Commission hat off, I don’t think we should sell it. $50,000 is a lot of money, but it might be worth more to us down the road,” she said.

Halstead made a motion to keep the license, and you could see the two other board members struggling with what to do.

“I’m tossed in the air,” Bley said.

“I’m in the same boat,” Wilson said. “It’s so hard to predict. You don’t want to goof things up for 20 or 30 years from now.”

Little Bit LeClair, also a Plan Commission member in the audience, argued that the town will only make $30,000 – or $10,000 each – by selling all three licenses within the town, while they could make much more by selling the license to Brennenstuhl. She added that it wasn’t likely a third bar would open in Jacksonport for that license.

Bley finally seconded Halstead’s motion and all three board members voted not to sell one of the licenses. When he saw the direction the license discussion was taking, Brennenstuhl left the meeting before the vote and he did not return a telephone call the next day seeking comment on what he will do next.

In other matters, the town board:

  • Agreed to set up a special town board meeting in early February to review the final architectural plans for the proposed new town office and fire hall, with the date to be determined.
  • Discussed radar speed devices to encourage observing the 30 mile per hour speed limit through town on Hwy. 57. Town Clerk Elissa Taylor has been working with the Department of Transportation to find acceptable devices. Taylor said the cost of two units for the north and south sides of town comes to $8,023, and a donor is willing to kick in $2,500. Supervisor Wilson said he has heard from several people who are concerned that the radar speed lights are unfriendly and asked if they would be on 24/7 or if they could just be turned on at peak times. Taylor said she found them helpful in reminding her if she is traveling too fast. “I think it just makes the town safer,” Chairman Halstead said. Taylor said she would check with the manufacturer to determine how they are controlled.

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