WATFORD CITY (AP) - The bustling North Dakota oil patch community of Watford City has had only one off-sale liquor license for nearly 60 years, but that might soon change. Not everyone in town is happy about it.
"Off-sale" refers to liquor that is sold to be consumed off the premises. Developers of a retail plaza on the outskirts of town want to add a liquor store to complement a grocery store, fast food restaurant and other retailers.
Jay Moore, developer for Minnesota-based investment company Oppidan, said the liquor store "is a critical part" of the plaza, which he estimates will generate $50 million in retail sales and about $500,000 for Watford City's one-cent city sales tax fund every year.
The city also has several other pending requests for off-sale liquor licenses, The Bismarck Tribune reported.
City ordinance allows one liquor license per 3,000 residents, but the city is growing quickly due to the oil boom. The official 2010 census has the town's population at 1,740, but the city estimates the actual number of people living within one mile of its zoning territory is more than 5,000. The City Council is considering a new ordinance allowing unlimited off-sale liquor licenses. A final decision could come Oct. 1.
The Watford City Community Benefit Association holds the only current liquor license and uses proceeds from its off-sale store for community projects. The association through the years has contributed about $750,000 to projects ranging from a hospital to a hockey arena.
"We don't want to see the ordinance changed," board member Steve Stenehjem said.