Hayden approves liquor store

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— The Hayden Town Board on Thursday unanimously approved a liquor license for a new store in Hayden.

Herman and Nancy Venzke of Craig want to put a liquor store in vacant space in the front of their shop, A-1 Auto, on the northeast corner of Jefferson Avenue and Walnut Street.

Herman Venzke, who gathered more than 140 petition signatures supporting a store, said residents came to him with the idea.

Mount Harris Liquors, on South Walnut Street, is the only liquor store in Hayden. Lorraine Johnson, who owns the store and is a board trustee, excused herself from the discussion and vote.

The town received several letters opposing a new liquor store -- A-1 Liquor -- and residents spoke against the store at the board meeting.

Judy Copeland argued that another liquor store would not bring more business into Hayden but would take customers away from Mount Harris Liquors.

"If it splits those (patrons), we're out to lose the other liquor store. ... We need to support existing businesses," she said.

Don Johnson, who said he does not have a financial interest in Mount Harris Liquors, opposed adding A-1 Liquor within a block of another liquor store as well as a restaurant and restaurant/bar that serve alcohol.

However, trustee Richard Bush said other potential locations risked being too close to the schools.

Karen Tomke, who owns a business across from A-1 Auto, said a new business would add vitality to downtown and attract more people.

"Hayden needs a new update; we need new stores," she said.

In the end, board members agreed that the town, with expected growth, could support two liquor stores. "I think it will sink or swim on its own merit," Trustee Ken Gibbon said.

Also Thursday, the Town Board agreed to draft a resolution supporting referendums C and D.

Referendum C would relax government spending limits for five years by allowing the state to keep revenues that otherwise would be returned to taxpayers. Referendum D gives the state permission to issue bonds to pay for specified road and bridge projects, infrastructure improvements to K-12 schools, universities and community colleges and pensions for firefighters and police officers.

Sen. Jack Taylor, accompanied by former Routt County Commissioner Ben Beall, expla--ined that the state Legislature had to cut nearly $400 million from the 2005-06 budget and -- if C and D don't pass -- will have to cut at least that amount in 2006-07 because of TABOR spending constraints.

Higher education is one of the last places to make cuts. The result would continue to put pressure on tuition and force some community colleges to close, Taylor said.

"One of the first things to go is community colleges, and believe me, there's going to be cuts if this doesn't pass," he said.

Resident John Shaw argued that the five-year plan was too long and there aren't enough details about how the money would be used. He worried the measures were a "blank check" for the government.

"I don't think C and D gives us the information we need to make the decision," he said.

Resident Tammie Delaney said the Routt County Extension Office and 4-H programs would suffer big cuts if C and D don't pass.

Mayor Pro Tem Crecencio "Chencho" Salazar emphasized Northwest Colorado also stands to lose Energy and Mineral Impact funds if the state doesn't get a break from TABOR.

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