MITCHELL, S.D. — Mitchell is moving to alter its liquor licensing rules after South Dakota lawmakers made changes that would create uncertainty for nearly 20 of the city’s businesses.

State regulators notified cities of changes to state liquor license laws late last month. Lawmakers discontinued three classes of off sale liquor and malt beverage licenses and expanded one class of on-off sale licenses.

An example of an on sale institution is a bar, while an off sale institution is a store that sells alcohol but doesn’t serve it.

The move could damage profitability for several Mitchell retailers who would be restricted from selling alcoholic beverages, the Daily Republic reported .

The City Council is working to approve an ordinance to maintain the status quo for 18 affected businesses. The ordinance would allow the retailers to obtain replacement licenses before the law takes effect July 1.

The council is holding a special meeting Monday evening to finalize measures.

The hardship for some retailers would be significant if the city’s effort stalls, said Bev Robinson, owner of Rob’s Short Stop.

“It would probably close most any convenience store,” she said. “It’s a big chunk of any business.”

Robinson and her husband have held an off sale license for their neighborhood store since 1982. The new state changes eliminate that license.

Anyone with an eliminated license will be expected to apply for the expanded class of on-off sale licenses. But the number of those licenses is being capped in Mitchell, according to City Attorney Justin Johnson.

Robinson has no interest in on sale business, but her store relies on package beer sales.

The city’s proposed ordinance would eliminate the cap so all Mitchell businesses can apply for the on-off sale license.

Petitions to refer the city’s changes to a public vote could delay the effort, Johnson said.

“Why do we limit competition like this?” Robinson said. “Free enterprise should be free enterprise.”


Information from: The Daily Republic, http://www.mitchellrepublic.com