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Sunday liquor sales to begin next month in Albert Lea

Sunday liquor sales will begin next month in Albert Lea.

The Albert Lea City Council on Monday approved lifting the city’s ban on Sunday liquor sales. The measure passed on a 6-1 vote. Councilors Robert Rasmussen, Larry Baker, Jason Howland, Reid Olson, Rich Murray and Mayor Vern Rasmussen Jr. voted yes. Sixth Ward Councilor Al “Minnow” Brooks voted no.

Baker said he supported lifting the ban after receiving extensive public support.

“Since we’ve started talking about this, I have not heard anything from anybody —  whether it’s the liquor store owners or people in the public —  against this,” he said.

Howland said he agreed, noting the main concern business owners expressed to him was the possibility of longer weekday hours — a proposal that city officials discussed but decided not to implement.

The vote came after the state Legislature this year approved removing the state’s old blue law that made Minnesota one of 12 states to ban Sunday liquor sales.

Liquor sales via off-sale licensees will be allowed to be open from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Sundays beginning in July. The Legislature, which allowed municipalities to continue prohibiting Sunday sales, bans the delivery of liquor to on-sale licensees by wholesalers or merchandising by wholesalers on Sundays.

Robert Rasmussen said if the city kept its ban on Sunday sales, people could still go to neighboring communities to purchase liquor, while Vern Rasmussen said the council was not forcing liquor store owners to open on Sundays, noting he did not want the city to limit competition.

Brooks said after the meeting that a majority of local liquor store owners expressed concern to him about the possible impact Sunday liquor sales will have.

“The majority of our places in town that sell it are smaller, and they are locally-owned, operated by a husband and wife or a family member, and they just don’t feel to be open is going to generate enough revenue,” he said.

In other action, the council:

  • Permitted an agreement for two $100,000 loans at 2 percent interest with Arends Properties LLC through the city’s economic development revolving loan fund. The first loan is expected to pay part of the cost for a new elevator at the intellicents office in downtown Albert Lea. The second loan is forgivable and is based on the creation of eight private sector jobs within five years. If the jobs are not created, the loan will have to be paid back. Albert Lea City Manager Chad Adams said the fund is used to create and retain good jobs, leverage private investment and increase the local tax base, along with other purchases.
  • Approved a revolving loan fund policy for Minnesota investment funds.
  • Accepted a $1,400 donation from Hy-Vee for a live fire-extinguisher prop for a fire prevention program. The extinguisher prop will be manufactured by Pro Manufacturing.
  • Approved a contract between the Minnesota Department of Transportation and the city so the two entities can collaborate on the design, construction, maintenance and operation of state and local roads. The agreement replaces a five-year agreement.
  • Approved a MnDOT two-year maintenance agreement for a little more than $63,000. Under the agreement, city crews conduct maintenance on Minnesota Highway 13 from U.S. Highway 69 to Broadway Avenue, and on U.S. Highway 65 from Margaretha Avenue to Morningside Avenue.
  • Accepted a nearly $8,900 grant from the Minnesota Historical Society to assist with the purchase of signs.

About Sam Wilmes

Sam Wilmes covers crime, courts and government for the Albert Lea Tribune.

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