City split on liquor license vote


ALAMOSA — Alta convenience store at 3213 Main (Highway 160) will be able to sell 3.2 percent beer, but the license approval from the Alamosa city council was not unanimous.

The council voted 5-2 to approve the license, with Councilmen Michael Carson and David Broyles voting against it.

Broyles argued that with 41 liquor licenses already, the city did not need another liquor license. “For a city of 10,000, that’s a lot of places,” he said. He added he worried about youth access to alcohol and the proximity to the school.

He also noted that although the city would be granting a 3.2 percent beer license, as of January 1 the holders of those licenses would be able to sell other alcohol as well. (Colorado legislators passed SB 197 in 2016 to allow grocery stores and gas stations to stock full-strength beer starting in 2019. Until that time they have only been allowed to sell 3.2 percent beer.)

Broyles favored waiting to make a decision on the application. Carson agreed. He said the representatives for the company did a great presentation, but he agreed with Broyles.

“I have a hard time just pushing another liquor store in this community,” Carson said. He agreed that there were plenty of places already in the community to buy alcohol. He also was concerned about the changes with 3.2 percent licenses in January.

The council held a public hearing on the liquor license application, and resident Darrell Cooper spoke in opposition. He questioned that the city needed another liquor license. (In granting or denying the license the council had to consider the needs and desires of the “neighborhood” which basically encompasses the city.) Cooper said the convenience store seeking the license is less than two blocks from Walmart and Beer Keg Depot, which sell alcohol.

“I don’t see there’s a need for this to move forward,” he said.

Dennis Dirkse, vice president of operations overseeing 109 stores and 750 employees, said there have been no violations with the more than 40 licenses he oversees since he has been vice president of operations. He said the company provides mandatory liquor license training as well as alcohol compliance checks internally. Clerks ask for identification of anyone appearing under 40, he added.

He said any employee who sells to a minor is immediately fired.

Dirkse said this location on Main Street/Highway 160 would not only serve local residents but also people traveling through town.

Max Scott, with Oedipus Inc., which performs opinion poll surveys and related services regarding alcohol license applications, said his company conducted door-to-door polling throughout Alamosa, and 87 percent of those polled were in favor of the 3.2 percent license.

Councilor Liz Hensley commended those who made presentations on behalf of the liquor license for providing research and support and for their clean record in recent years. She added there was very little public opposition against it.

Councilman Charles Griego agreed. He commended management for staying on top of the liquor license issue.

Councilor Kristina Daniel said she was also impressed with the liquor license training afforded employees and the lack of violations in the last four years.