Northern Minn. resort owner drops liquor license request

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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withdrawn his application for a liquor license, citing pressure from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

reservation.

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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