Beer license request raises eyebrows

BLUE EARTH – Youth sports and beer usually don’t mix, but Blue Earth City Council has approved a beer license for the Youth Ball Association.

Applying for the license was Lee Hodges, manager of the Pirates team. The license will run from May 24 to July 24.

The request generated concern among council members.

“It’s hard for us to issue a license through a youth association to sell beer,” said Councilman Russ Erichsrud.

Councilman John Huisman wondered if an area needs to be fenced off, like for a beer garden, or whether beer would be sold out of the same concession stand where hot dogs, pop and candy bars are sold.

Mayor Rick Scholtes pointed out that those selling beer must be at least 18 years old, and that the penalty for selling to someone underage is the same as for any other business.

Erichsrud asked about a police patrol, but City Administrator Kathy Bailey said police are not normally present at games.

If drinkers are required to stay in a fenced area, they wouldn’t be able to watch the game, Scholtes pointed out.

“I think they’re gonna make sure they don’t sell to minors or let it get out of control,” said Councilman Glenn Gaylord.

He said a license-holder knows doing so would have a bearing on whether they would be granted a license in the future.

Erichsrud wanted the request tabled to give the ball team a chance to go through another organization.

“I just don’t like going through the youth,” he said.

Erichsrud refused to vote for the request, but the other council members did.

In other business, the council approved a property abatement for 920 S. Galbraith St., owned by Nelda Turner. Pictures of the outside of the house show garbage and debris, and one broken door that has clothes spilling out.

“We’ve gone through this process with this property owner once or twice,” said City Attorney David Frundt.

He said Turner will have 15 days to clean up the property, then the city can get a court order to do it. Criminal violations are possible.

Councilman John Gartzke said he has received complaints about Bruce’s Auto Repair on Seventh Street, with cars parked for years and unmowed grass.

“It’s one of the main avenues into town,” said Councilman Dan Brod.

Frundt explained a complaint needs to be signed before the legal process can begin. Gartzke said he would do so.

Turning to another matter, the council discussed a proposed ordinance to regulate home occupations, including how much of a home a business can take up, how many employees it can have and in what ways it would create a nuisance for a neighborhood.

An ordinance also would prohibit several types of home businesses, such as automotive, junkyard, medical offices, and eating and drinking establishments.

“Cities are moving toward this model,” Frundt said. “We don’t have anything like that.”

He wants to head off potential problems, but the council worries an ordinance will discourage startup businesses.

“If it was a nuisance to the neighbors, it would be breaking the nuisance law,” Brod said. “You’re gonna knock people out when they try something new and it works.”

“There’s a lot of big important businesses that started in their garage,” Huisman said.

In other business Monday, the council:

o Annexed land at the corner of Highway 169 and Interstate 90 for the North Industrial Park.

o Held a closed session for an update on police officers Todd Purvis and Chad Bonin, both of whom have had undisclosed allegations raised against them.

The council came out of Monday’s closed session to approve changing its June 2 meeting time to 4:30 p.m., so it can meet in closed session to discuss the Purvis case.