Silt faces flak for liquor license refusal
SILT – B&L Liquor Depot, LLC alleges that the Silt Town Board of Trustees violated open meetings laws by deciding to deny a liquor license application prior to a public hearing.The company also is questioning the appropriateness of opposition to the application by former town administrator Rick Aluise, who now owns a liquor store.According to Liquor Depot’s complaint, the trustees denied the Liquor Depot’s license application on Nov. 13.”In denying this application, defendant exceeded its jurisdiction or abused its discretion,” the complaint states.The lawsuit was filed by attorney Charles Willman in 9th Judicial District civil court on Dec. 13. Willman said Liquor Depot is not operating yet, as it was unable to get its liquor license. Leann Marie Posey, of Silt, is the registered agent for Liquor Depot, described as a retail liquor store by the Secretary of State’s website. No phone number was listed there or in the phone book.The complaint says it was clear from statements made at the hearing that the trustees considered evidence outside the course of the liquor license hearing in its decision-making process. For example, Trustee Ron Morgan said at the beginning of the hearing that he heard from several constituents who didn’t want the liquor license approved, according to the complaint.”It is clear from later comments by Trustee Morgan, that this was information he used in making his determination with respect to granting or denying (the) liquor license, or that his decision was made prior to the hearing,” the complaint says.Morgan said he has no comment.Liquor Depot also alleges that Aluise, who owns Silt Discount Liquor, influenced the trustees’ decision outside the meeting.”Aluise contacted many members of the Board of Trustees, for whom he used to work, to discuss plaintiff’s liquor license application, prior to and outside the course of the public hearing,” the complaint says.The alleged contacts are described as creating either the appearance of, or actual, undue influence on the trustees’ actions.Aluise said he wrote the town a letter of opposition to the liquor license application in advance of the meeting, and spoke in opposition to the license at the meeting.”I contacted none of the trustees ahead of time,” Aluise said. “(Liquor Depot’s) complaint is absolutely ridiculous.”Aluise said his opposition was to the concentration of liquor stores. Silt would have one liquor store per 800 people if the license were approved, a far higher amount than other communities, he said.”The concentration of liquor stores was excessive for the population,” he said.Liquor Depot asks for reversal of the liquor license denial, a judgment that the trustees violated open meetings laws, and attorney fees.Contact Pete Fowler: email@example.com
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