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SHERIDAN — Sheridan City Council members agreed it is not their job to enforce ambiguous laws on behalf of the State Liquor Division at a regularly scheduled meeting Monday.
Weston Wineries, LLC, filed an application for a new winery license to operate in conjuction with the retail liquor license granted to Warehouse 201, a fine dining establishment located at 201 Broadway St. in Sheridan. The state has denied the application and urged Sheridan City Council to deny the winery license. According to a memo from Scott Badley, city clerk, the reasons for denial cited by the state were:
• That the entire location has been leased to Western Ventures, LLC, owned by Jessica Fleenor, and a full retail liquor license has been issued to that location, and,
• That Weston Wineries, LLC, which is owned by Western Ventures, LLC, is a different legal entity that would occupy the previously leased location, including the dispensing room, for winery activities.
Badley said the liquor division has consistently interpreted state statutes to mean two legal entities cannot operate in the same location. The Wyoming Attorney General’s office supports this interpretation although state statutes do not specifically allow or deny dual occupancy.
John Harrison, consultant for Weston Wineries, said Warehouse 201 is only one part of what Fleenor wants to develop. He said the winery will operate as a separate company — not just a wine bar, which would be covered under the retail license — so that it can eventually manufacture its own wines, with its own labels, and export them throughout the Rocky Mountain region.
Mayor Dave Kinskey said state law says City Council can approve the license but not issue it until the winery license application is approved by the State Liquor Division. Councilman Levi Dominguez said he thinks the winery is a great opportunity for the community but that he doesn’t want to approve the license on condition that the state approves the application.
After further discussion, all council members agreed to amend the motion to say that City Council approves the winery license but the city clerk will not issue the license until the application is certified by the State Liquor Division. Councilman Alex Lee said this will force the state to either approve or deny the application without putting the council in the position of denying it for them.
“They need to get their regulations clear, and they need to get them straight,” Kinskey said, noting that he is tired of acting as the State Liquor Division’s enforcer.
If the application is denied, Weston Wineries will discuss other options with the liquor division and will possibly rework the lease to give the winery a separate location in which to operate.
In other business:
• City Council passed on third reading a request to rezone 2.55 acres at the corner of West Fifth Street and Kentucky Avenue from R-3 Residential to B-1 Business.
• City Council also recognized junior council member Meghan Jacobs for her recent Summit Award win.
Following the regular meeting, City Council adjourned into executive session to discuss a request for collective bargaining. No action was expected after the executive session.
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Hannah Sheely is the digital content editor at The Sheridan Press. She has lived in Colorado and Montana but loves her sunny home state of Wyoming best. She joined The Press staff in February 2013.