Judge reverses Silt liquor license denial | PostIndependent.com

Judge reverses Silt liquor license denial

Pete FowlerGlenwood Springs, CO Colorado

SILT, Colorado – The Silt Board of Trustees violated two state laws, was confused, and treated Leann Posey unfairly when it denied her liquor license application in a November 2007 hearing, a district court judge found last month.Judge Gail Nichols reversed the trustees’ denial of the application in a Sept. 29 order. Nichols sent the case back to the board for a new hearing where Posey, of Silt, or her attorney would be allowed to cross-examine witnesses. A new hearing is scheduled for Nov. 25, for which Silt appointed a hearing officer to handle the liquor license application.Court documents show that Posey and the town board have been discussing possible settlement on a remaining claim that the town board violated open meetings laws by deciding outside the public hearing to deny the application. That claim wasn’t a part of Nichols’ order reversing the trustees’ denial of the liquor license application.”The court concludes that the board’s denial of the license was based on a misunderstanding of the applicable law and a misunderstanding of the discretion they had to approve or reject the license,” Nichols’ 14-page order states. “Given the totality of the procedures not followed by the (town) board in this particular hearing, this court concludes that the hearing was inherently unfair to plaintiff,” another part of the order says.In reviewing the trustees’ decision, Nichols found that the town board did not comply with a state law requiring it to issue a written explanation of the denial within 30 days. The town board violated another state law that says a liquor license applicant should be allowed to cross-examine witnesses, the order says.Nichols found that two trustees voted against the application for the legally irrelevant reason that the purchase of a lease “was being financed by the prior owner, which they did not like,” the order says.Town staff also did not make a recommendation as to whether the board should approve or deny the liquor license application, and nothing was in writing about what factual determinations the town board should have made at the hearing.”The town attorney attempted to orally advise the board, and, predictably, the advice was confusing and there is evidence the board was confused,” the order states.Cynthia Tester was the town attorney at the time. Silt has since hired Gene Duran.Trustee Bobby Hays arrived to the meeting late, after people spoke against the liquor license application, but he voted to deny the application anyway, the order states.Hays said in the hearing that he didn’t think the town had grown enough to justify a third liquor store and he was worried about the financing.A civil complaint challenging the town board’s denial of the liquor license application was filed by Charles Willman on behalf of Posey after the hearing. In it, Posey argued that former town administrator Rick Aluise, who owns Silt Discount Liquor, influenced the town board’s decision by contacting trustees outside of the public meeting.Aluise said previously that he only voiced opposition to the concentration of liquor stores in Silt in a letter to the board and in person at the hearing. He said if the license were approved, Silt would have one liquor store per 800 people, a far higher amount than neighboring communities.Posey applied for the liquor license for a business called B&L Liquor Depot.Contact Pete Fowler: 384-9121pfowler@postindependent.comPost Independent, Glenwood Springs Colorado CO

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