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Split liquor, Sunday liquor to be voted on in Blackduck

A special election will be held for the city of Blackduck to vote on whether they will become a “split liquor” city on Tuesday, March 11.

On the same ballot, citizens will vote on if the City Council should be allowed to issue on-sale intoxicating liquor licences on Sundays.

A city that has split liquor is one that issues private on-sale intoxicating liquor licenses while owning and operating a municipal liquor store, according to a Minnesota statute.

● The first question on the ballot will be phrased: “The city currently owns and operates a municipal liquor store. Shall the city council be allowed to issue private on-sale licenses for the sale of intoxicating liquor to hotels and restaurants, as well as clubs?”

● The second question, inquiring about Sunday liquor sales, will be phrased: “Shall the city council be allowed to issue on-sale licenses to restaurants, clubs and hotels for the sale of intoxicating liquor at retail on Sundays?”

The polls will be open for Blackduck residents from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. at City Hall.

If citizens vote to approve split liquor, the City Council will be able to issue private licenses to restaurants, hotels and clubs.

At restaurants, meals will have to be regularly prepared for furnished guests, as opposed to being assembled or reheated, according to the statute. Food must be served on the premises and served at tables to the general public, having a minimum seating capacity for guests as prescribed by city ordinance.

The council would also be able to issue licenses to hotels. Lodging would have to be provided at the establishment and it must also contain a dining room that serves to the general public. The hotel must have seating for at least 30 guests at one time.

A “club” is defined as an incorporated organization organized under the laws of the state for civic, fraternal, social, or business purposes, for intellectual improvement, or for the promotion of sports or a congressionally chartered veterans’ organization.

If the voters approve split liquor, the council will only be allowed to issue four private on-sale licenses in Blackduck. If they wanted to exceed four, another election would have to be held, according to law.

The number of licenses a city is allowed to issue is based on population. Blackduck falls between the 500 to 2,500 range.

The Blackduck Chamber of Commerce voted to publicly support Blackduck becoming a split liquor city at their regular meeting on Feb. 19.

For those who are unable to vote on election day, absentee ballots are available for residents of Blackduck at City Hall. Citizens using an absentee ballot do not have to be registered voters, but they will have to prove they live in the city of Blackduck. The ballots must be returned to City Hall on election day.

Elections will piggyback the townships election, which will also be held on March 11.

Following the election, the city administrator must certify the election results to the public within 10 days of the election.

If voters approve, the city will have to adopt a liquor licensing ordinance before and licences can be issued. The election isn’t needed to for the city to issue 3.2 percent malt liquor (beer) licenses. Elections only manage intoxicating liquor licenses.

Jillian Gandsey

Jillian Gandsey is the Multimedia Editor at the Bemidji Pioneer. She is an Iron Range native and a 2013 graduate of Bemidji State University. Follow Jillian on Twitter and Instagram @jilliangandsey. Contact her at 218-333-9786, 218-996-1216 or at 

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