The Cedaredge Town Board took up an item of business that it first considered last spring when on Jan. 12 the trustees held a public hearing on a liquor license request for Creekside Cafe.
Last spring, on the final day of the 2016 school term, the trustees adopted an ordinance decreasing the distance from a school that alcohol may be sold. The distance was reduced from 600 feet to 60 feet.
Though trustees were told that school officials had been notified of the change, neither the superintendent of schools nor any of the school board members knew of the town board's intention. In addition, there had been no public hearing nor any public discussion by trustees of the idea prior to their sudden move. The change passed on a split 5-2 vote.
As a result, when informed of the surprise change, the district school board held an emergency vote by telephone and issued an official resolution opposing the Town of Cedaredge's move.
In response, a second town board vote was held to consider repeal of the distance change. It failed to pass on a split 4-2 trustee vote and the new 60-foot rule remained in effect.
Caught in the middle of the political exchange was one of the town's favorite family restaurants: Cedaredge Creekside Cafe. The business owner, Codi Nelson, in response to customer request to provide beer and wine with meals, had approached town hall to obtain a liquor license. Creekside Restaurant is located directly across the road and just over 60 feet from Cedaredge Elementary School.
Wanting to accommodate Nelson's business needs, the town trustees adopted the ordinance setting 60 feet as the new distance, allowing the Creekside Cafe to serve alcohol to customers. But in doing so, the town board failed to ensure that other people who had an interest in the change and who should have been informed of it in advance, including top school officials and the public, were notified and had a fair chance to voice their views.
Nelson -- whom chef Dick Berardi referred to at the Jan. 12 hearing as a Christian person who, with her family, has helped many people in the community -- told trustees that she is now losing business to other restaurants that do sell wine and beer. She has stated that she only wants to sell beer and wine to customers with meals, outside of school hours, not during school events, and that she will work with school officials and others on any concerns.
The public hearing closed with no opposition expressed to the Creekside Cafe request for a "cafe hotel and restaurant liquor license."
The town board is expected to act on the license request at its Jan. 19 meeting.