A five month moratorium on new liquor licenses is over. Des Moines leaders approved the measure in April in order to prevent what they worried would be a liquor store on every corner. But it was lifted when the Des Moines City Council passed a new ordinance limiting retail liquor sales.
“It’s chopped down the list and its given us some controls by having people go to the board of adjustment for what is called a conditional use permit which gives us some more control over the operation and gives us the ability to review the license if the business establishment is causing problems,” said SuAnn Donovan, with the City of Des Moines.
With the new ordinance, not every business has to apply for a conditional use permit, including those larger than 12,000 square feet. There were 10 such businesses on the city’s waiting list, all Walgreens stores. They will go directly to the council for approval at the next public meeting.
Three smaller businesses still have a ways to go before they can sell hard liquor. The “Super Stop,” a convenience store on SE 14th and Maury is one of them. The owner says they’re already struggling to stay afloat. He says the ability to add to their inventory could be the difference between keeping the business and closing the doors for good.
“It helps to pay our bills and also it becomes, for small businesses, a one stop buying. It’s easier for the customer instead of buying the liquor somewhere else, beer here or cigarettes,” said owner Tony Dassan Owner.
Small businesses like “Super Stop” can now go to the board of adjustment, apply for a conditional use permit, and then go back to the council and state for a Class E Liquor License.
The ordinance requires that buildings under 12,000 square feet must be a quarter of a mile from any similar business selling liquor. Stores applying for a new liquor license must also be 500 feet from day cares, schools, churches and parks.
“The city is trying and doing the best we can to make sure our neighborhoods are safe and that we are addressing the neighborhoods issues on how we move forward with liquor licenses and that the conditional use permit process allows us that safety net so that if a business isn’t operating in a good fashion we can go back and review that and we have some more review powers than we used to for these limited small grocery store type retail establishments,” Donavan explained.