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101 1st St NE
Box 12
Bowman, ND 58623-0012

Bowman City Commission forced to revisit alcohol ordinances after legislative session

June 16, 2017



Pioneer Editor

But in the spirit of progress committee—which was comprised of city officials, members of the local law enforcement, and owners of local businesses, including those with active alcohol licenses—decided to create this tiered system. The most expensive level of license is a full permit, allowing beer, wine, spirits and on and off sale. They also made the cost of full license significantly higher than before, because they wanted the purchaser to be really invested in their prospective business.

Those rules and tiers have been in place for sometime, but now, because of changes to the North Dakota Century Code, the commission has been forced to revisit the city ordinances once again.

New laws put into place during the most recent legislative session gave bars or establishments serving hard alcohol, the ability to allow people under the legal drinking age to enter their business, as long as they follow the right procedures. Those procedures included approaching their local governing body, requesting permission and paying for a permit.

James said she thought this new law may have originated from really small communities, where there may only have one place to hold events, that happens to serve alcohol, like a bar with a large reception hall. And if you want to rent the entire establishment, for something like a wedding reception, children technically were not permitted.

“According to the legislature you can get a special event permit, but there’s all these little tweaks and to me it would be really hard to manage,” James said.

So Zoning Administrator Cheryl Ryan put wording into the city ordinances that reflected the new language of the century code, for the commission to discuss, read and vote on. But as discussions progressed, confusion ensued.

Among the biggest issues the commission was trying to work through, was the classification of special event. If an establishment wanted to host a special event, and serve alcohol, with the presence of minors, they would need to get a special permit, with a cost and issued by the commission. The problem is, according to James and the commission, is that as per the language of the law, a bar, which doesn’t allow minors inside in the first place, would be required to get this special permit if they hosted a special event, like a Super Bowl party.

James, speaking at the commission meeting on Tuesday, June 6, also said she was concerned that the city would be forcing businesses, who already have paid for a liquor license, to pay more.

She told the Pioneer that some of the problems she saw occurring with allowing the new legislation was in policing it, she thought it would be difficult and would require added enforcement.

“For one thing…it would be hard to police,” she said. “So you would almost have to require the places to have an in-house [law enforcement].”

But bottom line, the commission thought that interpreting the rule would lead to too much confusion, so they made the decision to not adopt the new rule, and go back to what they already had in place, which is no minors allowed it bars.

“The way that works is that, you can be more restrictive than the legislative rule, but you can’t be less restrictive,” she said. “Kind of what our consensus was after our discussion, the other night [at the commission meeting] was that we would keep things the way they are, where kids just aren’t allowed in the bars, period.”

So essentially, they need to hold a public reading, and hold a vote, to make things the way the city had been managing their alcohol ordinances in the first place.

“It’s not like we’re changing something that’s established,” James said. “We just couldn’t adopt this as it was presented at the meeting.”