Council denies liquor license

By Michael S. Hoey


      A liquor license application for a new pizza restaurant called Lucky’s was denied by the Common Council on Jan. 17. The restaurant would have been located in the former Little Caesar’s space.

      Questions about the applicant, Jennifer Halverson, led city staff to recommend denial of the application. Originally Nancy Jonas applied for a license but then withdrew the application. Jonas had also applied in November for a liquor license in the Town of Delavan after the license for Cattails had been revoked. Her son, Mike Jonas, had owned Cattails when the license was revoked. Nancy Jonas told the Town Board that she had taken over ownership of Cattails and applied for the license that had been revoked. Two other businesses also applied for that license.

      All three applications were tabled until the board could develop a new license procedure. Coincidentally, that procedure was approved by the board on Jan. 17. Lisa Churchill and Steve Smith have applied for the license once held by Jonas. Churchill has also applied for a reserve license, though she will not need it if she is awarded the regular license. Neither Mike nor Nancy Jonas currently have an application on file for a liquor license in the town.

      After Nancy Jonas withdrew her application for the Little Caesar’s location, Halverson filed an application appointing herself as the “agent”. Clerk Andi White said John Biwer, the owner of the building that was the home of Cattails, was with Halverson when she filed the application and Biwer contacted Building and Zoning Administrator T. Welsh about zoning issues for the business. What, if any, direct connection Halverson has with Mike or Nancy Jonas was not known to city staff.

      In a memo from White to the council explaining the recommendation to deny to application, White said state law requires an agent for a liquor license to have full authority and control of the premises described in the license. White wrote that Halverson is already the listed agent for eight different bars and staff had concerns that she could fulfill the requirement to exercise authority and control of another. White wrote that state law does not allow a license to be granted to a person acting for another and Halverson had not yet shown she has a lease for the space.

      According to White, city ordinance allows consideration of a liquor license to be based on the arrest and conviction record of the applicant, the financial responsibility of the applicant, the appropriateness of the location of the premises, and the applicant’s fitness for the trust to be reposed. White said city staff had concerns over the financial responsibility of the applicant and the appropriateness of the location and premises.

      Both Halverson and Biwer are listed in the Wisconsin Circuit Court Access as being involved in numerous tax warrants and unpaid judgments.

      Halverson did not appear at the General Operations Committee meeting, so she was not available for the committee to ask questions regarding the project.

The council unanimously approved denial of the application. Alderman Paul Wilson said that due to legal issues it was best to back off for now. Alderman Matt Bieser said it was not an appropriate business venture for the city due to those legal concerns. Alderman Tom Purcell said the city did not need another pizza restaurant.

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