At Tuesday’s Town Council meeting, acting in capacity as the Town’s Liquor Licensing Authority, a public hearing was opened to hear comments regarding a request to relocate Riverside Spirits from the 800 square foot store at the base of Winter Park Resort to a 4,000 square foot space, adjacent to the Fireside Market & Eatery in Hideaway Station.

 The hearing had been continued from the March 6th meeting. Local Business owner, Martin Aither, had submitted a letter of objection to the Town’s proceedings in relation to the recently submitted liquor license application from Scott Hefel, Mountain Spirits LLC, requesting relocation of his liquor store. Aither’s letter stated that the application violated Winter Park’s and Colorado’s Liquor Code which states that, in towns with populations of less than 10,000, licensed premises may not be located within 3,000 feet of another establishment. The new Hideaway Station site falls within 3,000 feet of Aither’s business, Winter Park Wine & Spirits Ltd.

Aither submitted that the Town must obtain legal guidance from the Liquor Enforcement Division of the Colorado Department of Revenue to petition for a Declaratory Order interpreting the laws applicable to this case and if they choose to move forward with Hefel’s application, the Town will be in violation of its own liquor code.

When the public hearing was opened, Mayor Lahrman read the opening comments, after which he polled those in attendance for the numbers in support of and opposed to the request. He counted 16 in support of the relocation and 2 opposed, later joined by a third opponent.

Attorney Adam Stapen, representing Hefel, approached the podium and told the council that the request was for relocation of an existing business and the statute related to distance restrictions does not apply to his client’s request. Stapen told the council that Hefel had also circulated a petition and collected 84 signatures in support of the relocation. The petition was submitted as Exhibit A.

Hefel next described his current space at the resort base as “too small”, with only one full-time employee. The move would allow him to expand his business and staff 5-6 employees. He described the location next to a grocery store as “the holy grail”, and said that the Town’s recent development plan approvals had influenced his decision to make the move.

He told the council that, if the request was approved, and, after receiving state approval, he hopes to open the new location in summer 2018. The relocated business hours would be 10 am – 10 pm daily, with a stock of about 50% beer, 25% liquor and 25% wine.

Hideaway Station Developer Chip Besse walked the crowd through a presentation, in support of the relocation. He described the development process where they’d had discussions with the Town to determine the best use of the site. A market study indicated a Grocery Store and Liquor Store combination would be beneficial to the consumer, and, the Town’s growth supports the model. Besse highlighted the 52% increase in sales tax revenue over the last five years, with the Downtown market closer to 58%. He submitted his presentation as Exhibit B.

The public hearing followed Besse’s presentation. Nine residents and business owners/managers spoke in support of the relocation, citing convenient access, walkability, proximity to the town’s grocery store, and noted “competition can be a good thing since it creates a value proposition for the consumer”. Conversely, three spoke in opposition to the move, focusing on legal issues, lack of coverage at the resort base and oversaturation within a small radius.  

After both sides submitted closing statements, the council began discussion. Town Attorney, Kendra Carberry, stated that the request to relocate was from an existing business and the state’s opinion was not needed prior to making a decision. She told them they were free to go forward with making a decision. The request for relocation of the existing business was unanimously approved by the Town’s Liquor Licensing Authority.