|Written by Jon Enger, MPR News,
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A northern Minnesota resort owner has
withdrawn his application for a liquor license, citing pressure from
the Red Lake Band of Ojibwe.
Chris Freudenberg, who owns Roger's
Resort near the Red Lake reservation, recently asked the Beltrami
County Board for a liquor store license. But tribal leaders opposed
his application on the grounds that a store at the resort would be
too close to their boundaries, where liquor is not sold.
Red Lake leaders argued a liquor store
so close to the reservation would complicate the tribe's longtime
struggle against alcoholism. They also asked for commissioners to
approve a buffer zone around the reservation where any new liquor
sales would be banned.
But Freudenberg withdrew his
application shortly before the county board's scheduled Tuesday night
vote on his request. As a result, county commissioners also will not
consider the tribe's buffer zone request.
"My first response was to dig
into a trench and fight," Freudenberg said. "But when you
sit back and think, the tribe has a point."
Freudenberg originally wanted to set
up a liquor store to reduce liability insurance costs by keeping his
guests off the road when they ran out of beer. He thought the store
would prevent drunk driving accidents, but hadn't thought about the
As it is illegal to possess alcohol on
the reservation, tribe members buying from Roger's might drink their
purchases before heading home. "That would just undo what I was
trying to do," he said.
Instead, Freudenberg plans to set up a
heated beer storage room at the resort, so his guests can bring extra
beer and not worry about the cans freezing in mid-winter.
He later plans to apply for a license
to sell drinks in a small restaurant and bar that is under
construction at the resort. That type of license gives a bartender
much more control over who drinks and how much is consumed, he said.
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