Council makes permit process easier
July 27, 2023
While the Green River City Council is making it easier for local businesses to get permits such as catering and open container permits, discussion of an upcoming event revealed the need to keep working through some of the details.
During the July 18 meeting, the council voted unanimously to approve a resolution to establish a process to administratively issue catering permits, twenty-four hour malt beverage permits and open container permits. The resolution authorizes the City Administrator to oversee these types of permits and act on behalf of the Governing Body.
Mayor Pete Rust noted the council members have already discussed the resolution in previous meetings, but asked for an overview. City Clerk and Director of Finance Chris Meats, who was attending the council meeting as the acting city administrator in place of Reed Clevenger, explained that the city’s current ordinance specifies that the mayor and governing body must be the ones to approve these types of permits. He noted that several other cities in Wyoming are moving to use administrative process for approval. The city of Green River is currently working on establishing an administrative procedure, according to Meats, but this resolution was one of the first steps.
“We do have a significant amount of ordinance changes we need to make to the liquor ordinances to comply with some new state statutes that have come out over the last two years, and we’ll finalize this change with that,” Meats explained. “But this is just to tide us over so we don’t have to have near as many special meetings.”
Most, if not all, of the council’s special meetings in the last few years have been to approve permits, according to Meats, and this resolution will cut down on that need.
“Staff feels this will also allow the City to be more flexible with timelines and be more business friendly,” the explanation on the meeting agenda stated.
Later in the meeting, the council approved the consent agenda, which included one open container permit, one malt beverage permit, and three catering permits. The consent agenda originally included one more open container permit and one more catering permit, but the council voted to move them to regular agenda items to have more discussion.
BadAss Brews requested an open container permit that would cover two separate events, one of which was the “Show Off Your Ride Car Show” on July 29 and the other of which was the “Too Broke for Sturgis” event to take place August 5 and 6. The Buck N Bar also requested a catering permit for the same “Too Broke for Sturgis” event.
Councilmember Robert Berg split the motion in order to handle the two BadAss Brews events separately, and the council approved the open container permit for the car show coming up on Saturday. The “Too Broke for Sturgis” event, however, garnered more discussion.
Councilmember Gary Killpack raised concerns about the nature of the event and asked Chief of Police Shaun Sturlaugson to comment on the security aspect. Chief Sturlaugson noted that any special events with alcohol involve the concerns of making sure minors don’t have access to alcohol and having some kind of security.
Sturlaugson also noted that trying to staff large events with police officers for security puts strain on the department and on city finances with the need to pay officers overtime. According to Sturlaugson, the permit for the “Too Broke for Sturgis” event estimated having up to 2,000 people.
BadAss Brews owner Russ Hemmert joined the council meeting during the conversation and was asked to speak about the event. When Councilmember Sherry Bushman asked where the estimate of 2,000 people came from, Hemmert said he had no idea, saying he’d seen the number in an email but thought it was referring to other local events occurring the same day. He said he only estimates about 40-50 people to be at the “Too Broke for Sturgis” event.
When it came to how the event got started, Hemmert explained he and the staff at the Buck N Bar were approached by a group with the idea for the event who wanted to have a poker run, close the street down, park their bikes, and play outdoor games like cornhole. Hemmert said he thinks it will essentially be “a bunch of guys on motorcycles that want to come hang out for the day.”
Despite Hemmert’s clarification, Councilmember Killpack still voiced his opposition to the idea, saying even if it starts small it could grow to a bigger event in the future that could cause problems.
“I don’t want an event like Sturgis in Green River, Wyoming,” Killpack said. “I’m not in favor of anything that would be like Sturgis in our small, little community. I think that’ll destroy our town.”
The council decided to wait to discuss the open container permit and catering permit for the event at the next council meeting. Meats confirmed that this will also make it possible to change some of the wording on the permit requests, such as the estimated number of people.
Killpack also brought up the question of whether a permit allows the business in question to sell any kind of liquor, and why both an open container permit and catering permit were needed. Meats explained the permits give businesses the ability to distribute anything they can under their retail license, including hard liquors. He also explained the open container permit gives the ability to have open containers of alcohol outdoors in public areas where they’re typically not allowed and applies to a specific area, allowing multiple businesses to have alcohol within that area under the permit. The catering permit, he noted, allows businesses to distribute outside of their building.
“We’ve actually had quite a few internal discussions lately on special permits,” Meats said during the City Administrator’s Report section at the end of the meeting. “Sounds like we need to have a little discussion on some of these catering deals that you guys just administratively allowed us to do.”
Meats also noted that other cities and towns all do things a little differently, but the city will work on putting guidance together and getting feedback from the council.
During his comments, Councilmember Berg explained the intent behind voting to allow the city administrator to approve these permits was largely for cases like when a wedding needs a last-minute permit for catering and needs quick approval.
Meats also added that if the council still wishes to have these permits brought before them, that can be done, but agreed that the intent was for permits to be able to be approved without having to wait for the next council meeting or needing to call a special meeting.
“We just want to try to be more friendly to the people,” Meats said.