From the pages of
Sublette Examiner
Volume 6, Number 8 - May 18, 2006
brought to you online by Pinedale Online

Elk Ridge Lodge under scrutiny

by Cat Urbigkit

On Tuesday, the Sublette County Commission held a public hearing on liquor license renewal applications. Current licenses are set to expire June 30.

The commission considered six retail liquor licenses. Applications for renewal were received from Green River Bar, Boulder Liquor, The Place and Country Lane Liquor. County Clerk Mary Lankford noted that applications for renewal were not received from either the Elkhorn or WhitePine Ski Area and Resort.

“Well if they haven’t applied, we can’t approve them,” Commission Chair Betty Fear said.

Commissioner Bill Cramer made a motion to approve the applications that are in order. The motion was successful.

The commission considered four restaurant liquor licenses, approved the renewal for Lakeside Lodge and agreed to approval for Half Moon and Fort William as soon as the applications are completed.

But when it came time for considering the application from Elk Ridge Lodge, the commission heard some public opposition.

Five residents of the Redstone Upper Green River Subdivision attended the meeting to oppose renewal of the restaurant liquor license. John Anderson explained that subdivision residents had submitted a letter of complaint to the county planning and zoning commission on March 22, taking issue with some of the business practices of Elk Ridge Lodge, including the sale of alcoholic beverages.

“We’re not trying to close Elk Ridge Lodge,” Anderson said, with no animosity intended toward its owner.

Anderson explained that in 1989, the county approved a zone change allowing development of the lodge business in the private subdivision. The master plan for the development allowed a small dude operation, with Elk Ridge Lodge created as a destination lodge with ranch-style dining. Anderson explained that the owners of the business followed that master plan until a recent change of ownership.

With happy hour being promoted and the fact that a restaurant liquor license requires operation of a restaurant, that means that clients will drive across private property and across one-lane bridge for happy hour, creating a legal liability for private landowners in the subdivision.

Resident Tom Worden said his concern is the public traffic through the subdivision after visitors have been drinking, adding that he is not opposed to the destination dude operation. He requested the renewal of the liquor license be tabled until the complaint offered to the P&Z has been resolved.

The complaint has been referred to the county attorney’s office, according to Anderson.

The residents emphasized they do not oppose operations of the business as called for in its original master plan.

Cramer noted that the complaint is a P&Z issue that needs to be resolved. He said that the liquor license is a separate issue that should be tabled for now. Cramer suggested that the business owner be invited to come to a commission meeting to talk about the license renewal. The issue will be heard by the commission on June 6 at 2 p.m.

The commission also approved malt beverage permit renewals for Lakeside Lodge and the Daniel Junction. Lankford reported that Hoback Village did not submit its renewal application. The commission also approved Pinedale Golf Club’s limited license.

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