Exit 31 LLC bar owner finds himself operating in error

Posted December 6, 2012 at 6:00 am

by Julie Ann Madden

When it came time to renew his Union County liquor license, Exit 31 LLC owner Shawn Brady learned he wasn’t operating according to the law.

In December 2009, Shawn Brady of Vermillion, S.D., had the one and only $25,000 minimum bid for a Union County liquor license to be used at the former Garryown Catholic church property, which sets just east of Interstate 29 on S.D. Highway 48, west of Spink.

Union County Planning & Zoning had approved rezoning the property to commercial and issued him a Conditional Use Permit to construct and operate a bar or lounge on the site at that time.

According to Union County Planning Director Dennis Henze, in September 2010, Union County’s Conditional Use Permits and variance regulations changed so that if a person didn’t “exercise” the plan presented to county officials, their permit or variance would expire; however, they could apply for a one-year extension.

“Shawn did (apply for the extension),” said Henze, “and I granted that so the Conditional Use (Permit) expired on Dec. 17, 2011.”

“That’s my fault for not being aware of that,” said Brady, asking how that affected him.

“You do not have any right to construct a restaurant, lounge or bar,” said Henze, “and that was your intention to construct a business there — get rid of the church and construct a business there.”

Brady told the Union County Commissioners, he’d operated a bar in the former Garryowen church building, having it open four or five hours a day this past April, June, July, August and September so that he could keep his liquor license. It “was open probably 90 days.”

He paid sales tax on the small amount of liquor he sold and paid a person to work there while it was open, he told Commissioners, adding he hadn’t advertised its opening “simply because we haven’t done anything with the building.”

Brady explained he had a counter, some tables, a cooler and cash register in the church building.

Union County States Attorney Jerry Miller informed Brady he was operating in violation of state fire safety regulations in addition to county violations.

“In order to have that facility open, you needed an occupancy certification, which you get through Dennis,” said Miller, “and you’ve done no remodeling permits so you just have an open spot inside an old church that you’re serving beer out of a cooler, essentially.”

Brady apologized for his lack of knowledge of the regulations, noting it was all his own fault, and asked Commissioners to allow him to keep his liquor license.

Henze told the commissioners Brady would have to reapply for a Conditional Use Permit.

“The reason we haven’t done anything with the building is we were obviously waiting to see what happened with Hyperion,” said Brady. “We didn’t purchase the property solely because of Hyperion but that would obviously steer our direction in what we do want to do.”

He explained if Hyperion came, his plan was to operate a bar with a restaurant on the side as it would be more profitable that way; however, it appeared that Hyperion wasn’t coming since they’d released their land options, therefore, the direction he wanted to take was to construct a restaurant with liquor sales on the side. He’d opened in the church simply to “maintain” his liquor license.

“I’d still like to go ahead if it is at all possible because I still want to use the property,” said Brady, adding it wasn’t his intent to get a liquor license and not use it or to resell it.”

“(Without Hyperion coming) I think this Summer or Spring we’ll go ahead with what we want to do — a restaurant with a bar attached to it as opposed to a bar with a restaurant,” he said.

The commissioners’ consensus was to give Brady until their Dec. 27 meeting to reapply for a Conditional Use Permit, which includes a business plan, before they consider renewing his liquor license.

His current liquor license expires Dec. 31.

The commissioners also discussed that the county has three other liquor licenses available.

Two can be anywhere in the county and one is for Dakota Dunes.

County officials auction off the liquor licenses, setting a minimum bid of $25,000 for each.

They discussed promoting the liquor licenses early in 2013, then setting up an auction on the three available.

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