The Lake Delton Village Board approved a backlog of expiring liquor licenses at its May 11 meeting, amidst a heated discussion with a local business owner over a permit disagreement.
Jeff Morris, co-owner of Bobbers Island Grill on Wisconsin Dells Parkway South, appeared during the initial citizen appearance portion of the meeting to share his frustration over the denial of his extended hours music permit. According to Morris, his request for a new permit was denied at a meeting in late April, while he was unable to attend due to a charity function.
“I was very disappointed to hear what happened,” Morris said. “Two weeks ago I had to make a decision on a Monday. Do I go to a board meeting for a license renewal, or, when my wife called me in early, do I go help Happy Kids Network to help individuals and families that needed food? But how could I know that as I was handing out food, I was getting stabbed in the back by leaders of this community?”
Initially reading from a pre-transcribed statement on a legal pad, Morris’ comments rapidly devolved into an argument between himself, Board President John Webb and Trustee Tom Diehl. Morris said the source of contention was his application for a background music permit, which he claims to have had for several years. But Webb pointed out that the permit request Morris had submitted applied to live music performances instead.
Diehl said the board would approve a permit for Bobbers to have its usual background music, provided that Morris submitted the proper paperwork. Morris responded that he submitted the same permit request he had in the past. For him, his issues with the board’s licensing process began in 2013, when he said his prior live music permit was revoked due to a single noise complaint from a nearby hotel.
“I missed one meeting back in 2013, and it got taken away from me,” Morris said. “For one complaint. One time. Tried to come back, get it fixed, didn’t happen.”
Webb told Morris to “get your paperwork together” before the next meeting, which would set him on the road to approval. He also challenged Morris’ claim that he had a previous agreement with the village administration “that this wasn’t going to happen to me,” prompting Webb to request proof, leading Morris to admit he had nothing in writing.
After several minutes of debate, Webb cut Morris off, closing the meeting to public comment and proceeding to the remainder of the agenda.
Much of the remainder of the meeting was spent approving the 73 liquor license applications that had previously been set to expire or had been requested through the last two months.
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