PLATTEVILLE — In November, the Platteville Common Council passed an ordinance intended to prevent holders of unused Class B liquor licenses from not using those liquor licenses in active businesses.
On Thursday, the Common Council held a hearing on nonrenewal of two of the city’s three unused Class B liquor licenses.
After a two-hour-long meeting, the Common Council decided against nonrenewal of either liquor license. The Common Council will vote on renewing all the city’s Class B licenses, including the two that came up Thursday, at its next meeting June 12.
The third unused license is held by Becker & Zmina Holdings LLC, owners of the former Gangsters Steakhouse at 96 E. Main St. The city’s license review committee did not recommend nonrenewal because the owners reportedly plan to reopen in August.
The city has 23 Class B liquor licenses, three of which are not being used, and a five-person waiting list for licenses that become available. The nonrenewal ordinance stipulates that the city can choose to not renew a liquor license for any of five conditions that would indicate that the bar for which the license was issued has closed or is not open.
The two unused Class B licenses represent different situations.
One license, held by Parking Spaces LLC, was formerly used by The Timbers, which closed in 2007.
Jim Schneller Jr., whose company holds the license, is negotiating with a Madison real estate company that develops Benvenuto’s Italian Restaurants to build in the Keystone Parkway area on Platteville’s east side.
“They have visited the town of Platteville and they are interested in Platteville,” he said.
Schneller acknowledged the non-use of the liquor license meets the city’s criteria for nonrenewal, but asked “for an exception to forfeiture” because “without a license there would be virtually no chance of enticing a restaurant in there” or “a hotel down the road.”
Keystone Parkway is in the city’s Tax Incremental Financing District 5, which Schneller says includes 6.85 percent of the city’s equalized value and is projected to be paid off in half its allotted time without any new construction there.
“The two most effective catalysts would be a hotel and restaurant,” he said. “If we don’t have this license it almost precludes us from a getting a formal sit-down eating establishment out there, as well as the possibility of a hotel.”
“The Timbers is a perfect example” of an unused Class B license, which prompted the ordinance, said at-large Ald. Steve Becker. However, Becker then added, “My feelings would be probably not take this license away at this time,” and one year from now “that would be your notice, and we would take action a year from now.”
No motion was made to non-renew the license.
The other unused license is held by Thomas Herbst of Dubuque, the former operator of the Holiday Bar, 45 N. Second St. Herbst’s bar has been closed since April 2011, when the building owner announced the Holiday’s lease wasn’t going to be renewed.
The building is in a foreclosure proceeding with Dubuque Bank & Trust. Herbst said DB&T wasn’t allowing leases on the property, and wasn’t going to be able to sell the building until after Aug. 10, the end of the 15-month redemption period under state law.
“I’m a victim of circumstances here,” said Herbst. “I’ve done my best to keep this license open.” He asked to have his license renewed because “I have a new place to move it to, and I can move it in two weeks.”
Michael Kielty of DB&T’s parent company, Heartland Financial, was at the meeting with two prospective purchasers of the building. Kielty said the purchase was contingent on getting its liquor license.
The council unanimously voted not to non-renew Herbst’s license.