City Council renews Hy-Vee’s alcohol license after a failed compliance check in May

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The Vermillion Hy-Vee will still be allowed to continue alcohol sales after failing an Alcohol Compliance Check in May after City Council allowed its license renewal Dec. 2.

City Council held the public hearing to sort out license renewals for liquor and wine in restaurants, grocery stores, the municipal liquor store and the winery.

“City ordinance requires a management plan from any establishment for a violation of any of the liquor laws since the last renewal. We only had one management plan from Hy-Vee,” Mike Carlson, Vermillion finance officer, said.

Hy-Vee’s management plan stated any cashier under the age of 21 would need a manager approval to sell alcohol. It also stated if the cashier was 21 or older, if they asked for identification he or she would need to type in the birth date into the register before proceeding.

“I have personally written a new policy and have disabled clerks from being allowed to sell using the register system. I have invited Chief (Matt) Betzen to the store to show the new policy,” said Steve Parker, Hy-Vee store director.

Hy-Vee passed a subsequent Alcohol Compliance Check by the Vermillion Police Department in September. Police Chief Matt Betzen said in a letter to Hy-Vee that after touring the store the changes will reduce the sale of alcohol to underage persons.

“It is clear that Hy-Vee is taking significant steps to address the failed compliance check,” Betzen said.

The remaining vendors including Charcoal Lounge, Main Street Pub, Old Lumber Company, Howler’s Bar and Grill and other area businesses received renewal of alcohol licenses at the meeting.

Old Lumber Company’s current liquor license has a restriction that limits alcohol sales to the interior of the building only. Old Lumber Company owner John Grunewaldt has considered expanding service to the roof.

Grunewaldt asked City Council why the restriction was going to remain in place. He also requested the Council state it in the meeting on the record.

According to city documents, Farrel Christensen, building official for Vermillion issued an occupancy permit, but has not received any plans for the roof.

“We want to tread very carefully in respect to your future plans,” said City Councilman John Grayson. “We in no way want to inhibit you ability to do business.”

The city approved the Old Lumber Company alcohol license with the interior restriction.

As of Nov. 22, the Vermillion Police Department had conducted 30 Alcohol Compliance Checks on vendors.

Seven businesses failed the compliance checks, however, the rate is up 21 percent from November in 2012.

“Hopefully, the upcoming year will show continued improvement,” said Betzen.