More booze coming to Snowmass? |

More booze coming to Snowmass?

Brent Gardner-Smith

A newly elected Snowmass Village town councilman will be going before the town’s liquor licensing authority board today (Friday) seeking permission to operate the third liquor store in the community.

The operators of the two current liquor stores in the village – Village Liquors on the mall and Sundance Drug and Liquor in the Snowmass Center next to Village Market – are against the new license being granted and have gathered 250 signatures on a petition.

Arnie Mordkin, who was elected to the Snowmass Village Town Council in November, manages Snowmass Photo and Books on the mall with his wife, Cindy. Technically, the business is owned by Mordkin’s son, who is a surgeon at Georgetown University Hospital in Washington, D.C.

On Monday, the Snowmass Village Town Council approved 3 to 1 to give Mordkin permission under the town’s code of ethics to appear before the liquor licensing board while serving as a Town Council member.

Jack Hatfield, who takes office next week as a Pitkin County Commissioner and is stepping off the Town Council, cast the dissenting vote.

“It’s inappropriate,” said Hatfield. “I believe you have to take the high road when it comes to appearances of conflict of interest.”

Under state licensing regulations, Mordkin has to appear before the liquor licensing board because he is a manager of the business seeking the license.

“It is important that I don’t look like I’m trying to pull something here,” said Mordkin. “I have to be there.”

Mordkin recused himself from voting on Monday on the appointment of new and returning members to the Snowmass Village liquor licensing board. He filed the liquor application before he was elected.

The larger issue may be whether Snowmass Village wants or needs another liquor store.

Mordkin’s concept is to set aside 40 square feet from his 900-square-foot store to sell a limited amount of liquor to better serve guests of the Silvertree Hotel.

Mordkin’s book and photo store is right across a hallway from the elevators that serve the hotel, and it’s been his experience that many guests come into his store asking where the liquor store is in the village. And often, those same guests come back frustrated that they couldn’t find the store.

“That’s not good guest service,” he said.

But from Dick Kelley’s point of view, Mordkin should just give better directions.

“Mr. Mordkin should learn how to say `Turn right at the Chocolate Factory,’ ” said Kelley, whose Village Liquors is located around the corner from the sweet shop in a portion of the mall that faces the transit plaza.

Kelley has owned Village Liquors with his wife, Jane, since 1973. They’ve been trying to sell the business for about a year at the price of $295,000, and don’t think another liquor store 200 steps away is necessary in the village.

Citing state regulations, Kelley said that “the applicant is entitled to a license only on proof that the neighborhood is not adequately served by other outlets.”

At the state level, it’s rare to turn down a liquor store license because of competitive reasons, although Snowmass Village Deputy Town Clerk Rhonda Coxon said that some stores have been denied in downtown Denver because there were too many in one area.

Locally, a large wholesale liquor store in Carbondale was recently denied a license.

“If you’re going to deny, you have to prove there wasn’t a need,” Coxon said. “It’s going to be real interesting to hear both sides.”

The liquor licensing board hearing takes place at 2 p.m. today (Friday) in Town Council chambers.

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