By Dave Fidlin
Village officials in Waterford and Rochester are in the process of considering the City of Burlington’s request to support revised liquor legislation in Madison to give municipalities more leeway in transferring licenses among one another.
Burlington Mayor Jeannie Hefty recently sent a letter to all Racine County municipalities, asking for support in the hopes of convincing lawmakers to examine their current laws for liquor license quotas.
Hefty’s proposal calls for a change in how “Class B” liquor licenses can be transferred. Currently, they only are permissible between communities in a 2-mile contiguous radius from one another. Hefty is asking for consideration to have that provision extended countywide.
In the letter, Hefty outlined the rationale behind her request to change the liquor legislation.
“Our city was recently faced with two solid applicants wishing to apply for a ‘Class B’ liquor license,” Hefty wrote. “However, the city only had one license remaining. This resulted in our council having to choose a ‘winner’ and a ‘loser.’ Both had solid business plans. Both would have been welcomed and successful in our community.”
On April 10, the Village Boards overseeing Waterford and Rochester each reviewed Hefty’s letter and gave preliminary support.
At Waterford’s meeting, Village Administrator Zeke Jackson said the current arrangement of selling a reserve liquor license would be punitive for a community such as the one he oversees.
“It locks up millions of dollars of investment in your community,” Jackson said. “It just doesn’t make sense for us to transfer a license, unless we can get it back.”
The Rochester Village Board, which denied a request from Burlington to sell a reserve license in February, also has pledged support at Monday’s meeting.
Waterford and Rochester’s Village Boards have indicated they plan to sign resolutions in support of the proposal at upcoming meetings.