It’s one hour. Sixty minutes. It’s one lap around an analog clock.
But for the Village Board in Menomonee Falls, one hour is where they draw the line.
owner Mandeep Dran learned just what an hour means to the village when he applied to sell beer until midnight rather than 11 p.m. at his gas station on Appleton Avenue. After paying the nonrefundable $500 fee and filing the necessary paperwork to amend his business permit, the Village Board declined his request Monday during its regular meeting.
Although county ordinance allows beer sales until midnight, Falls has – and will remain – cutting sales off at 11 p.m.
“Those of us on the Plan Commission had some concerns as to whether we want people driving into our community buying alcohol at the service stations between 11 p.m. and midnight as a means of procuring additional alcohol,” said Trustee Michael McDonald. “We were concerned whether or not this would be considered a magnet for potential drinking and driving as a result of those two activities mixing.”
Additionally, McDonald said the Plan Commission noted Dran was in violation of several items in his conditional use permit. There were some signs displayed and items stored outside his business without the proper permits. Dran said they fixed those problems before the meeting.
The Plan Commission and Village Board were unanimous in their decision to decline Dran's request.
Dran operates a small beer and liquor store in his gas station. For Dran, the additional hour of beer sales is a small request, and he doesn’t believe keeping his store open an extra hour would impose additional drunken driving risks.
“Just up the street there are several bars open and serving alcohol until 2 a.m. Should they also close at 11 p.m.?” Dran said. “If someone would come into our store intoxicated, we would never sell them alcohol either.”
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Apparently residents that live closest to Dran’s gas station are also in favor of extending beer sales to midnight. Dran collected 34 signatures from residents in the immediate area. All his neighbors that abut his property signed his petition, as well.
“My neighbors agree with me, and they don’t have a problem,” Dran said. “They were asking what happened with our proposal with the board.”
A second issue for the Community Development Authority in Falls was setting president by extending beer sales to midnight. According to a staff report, Germantown is the only community that has allowed the sale of beer until midnight. Just one gas station in that community currently sells till then.
The report states that ordinances in Lannon, Pewaukee, Sussex, Richfield, Brookfield, and Butler all shut down beer sales at 9 p.m.
Just south on Appleton, Mobil gas station owner Sony Pal recently added a walk-in beer refrigerator to his station. Pal took a neutral position when it came to extending beer sales until midnight. He said the extra hour won’t really bring in additional revenue, but if his competition gets a permit to sell until midnight he also would consider it to remain competitive.
“We want to work with the community and board and not against them. We want to do business in the community and be part of the community,” Pal said. “The village is looking out for business owners and the residents of the community. If they think that’s what’s right for the community, then we will work with that.”
Falls BP, Pal’s Mobil, and on Silver Spring are the three stations of the 10 or so stations throughout the village that sell beer. Paul’s Mobil sells beer, but stops selling at 9 p.m.