DOVER — The unlicensed wedding barn located in the town could get a liquor license to ensure its future operations, as Norway’s Town Board voted to sell a liquor license to Dover.
Norway’s vote, made Monday, comes after Dover sent letters to its neighboring municipalities requesting an extra license for The Farm at Dover, 26060 Washington Ave. (Highway 20), which was caught up in a statewide debate over whether wedding barns should be required to have liquor licenses.
Besides Raymond, which is set to discuss the transfer at its Town Board meeting on March 25, all of Dover’s other neighbors — the villages of Waterford, Yorkville and Union Grove and the towns of Waterford and Burlington — declined to part with a license, most citing a desire to protect the municipalities’ potential for growth.
Norway’s selling price, $25,000, is more than double the standard price of a Class B reserve license: $10,000. For the purchase to go through, Dover’s Town Board would vote on it during its next meeting, and then The Farm at Dover would reimburse the town.
Although Norway has already agreed to sell the license, Dover’s original request will still be discussed at Raymond’s Town Board meeting later this month, Town Clerk Linda Terry said.
The potential sale would allow The Farm at Dover some breathing room, as it was not until last Friday that Gov. Tony Evers said he would not force wedding barns to get liquor licenses after former Attorney General Brad Schimel issued an informal opinion in November that licenses should be required.
The period of uncertainty resulted in lawsuit against the Evers administration, filed January in Dunn County Circuit Court by the Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty and two wedding barns. Despite Evers’ decision, WILL and the wedding barns have not withdrawn the lawsuit, court records show.
Mike Spiegelhoff, owner of Drink Inc. bartending service, which partners with The Farm at Dover, said last week that he would still pursue obtaining the license for the barn. Spiegelhoff originally sent a letter to Dover asking for help, which the town forwarded it to its neighbors last month.
Now that Norway has agreed to sell a license — albeit with a price hike — Spiegelhoff said he and Tom Hamilton, owner of The Farm at Dover, are in discussions on how to proceed.
Tavern League responds
The Tavern League of Wisconsin, in response to Evers’ decision, issued a memo on Tuesday encouraging its members to set up rooms or space in vacant buildings for private events. Because of Evers’ decision, the league argued, these new spaces could operate completely unregulated.
Dean Larsen, president of the Racine County Tavern League and owner of the Hogs Nest Saloon, 4301 S. Beaumont Ave., Kansasville, said he disagrees with Evers’ decision.
“In my opinion, it’s still illegal,” Larsen said. “… I think the state is in for a big wakeup call.”
If wedding barns do not need a liquor license, bars such as the Hogs Nest Saloon should not either, Larsen said.