Understanding the Liquor Licensing Process

Applying for the License

Any person, partnership or corporation desiring a license to sell or distribute alcohol beverages for commercial purposes, whether beer, wine or spirituous drinks, must first obtain a license to do so from both the State of Colorado and the City of Wheat Ridge. The process begins with the license Applicant obtaining State and City forms from the City of Wheat Ridge City Clerk's Office.

The forms require background information from the Applicant such that the City, through its Licensing, Police, and Building Code Department personnel can make assessment whether the Applicant is eligible to hold the responsibility and privilege of being licensed by the City and the State of Colorado. Among the information the application requires is the Applicant's criminal history, if any, their financial backing, and their other connections to the liquor industry including all other licenses held or relinquished. Additionally the Applicant must supply detailed floor plans of the business so that the City can evaluate the size of the business and the number of potential patrons. The Applicant must then attest to the truthfulness of the applicant, pay applicable licensing fees and officially submit the application for review by the City and State. When the City officially receives the fully completed application(s), a new stage in the process is reached, one in which citizens may have substantial input if they so desire.

Posting of Notice - New Applications - Possible Transfers

Now that the application has been received and the City investigation of the Applicant is underway, the existence of the application is announced publicly. According to City and State laws, the existence of the application and the fact that there will be a public hearing on the matter, must be made known to the public through two avenues of communication. First, a notice sign must be conspicuously posted at the physical location of the premises seeking a license. The posted notice provides details on the type of license sought, the date, time and location of the hearing wherein the application will be ruled upon by the Liquor Licensing Authority Board, as well as contact information where interested parties can acquire more information on the application. Second, the same information needs to be published in the newspaper of record, currently the Wheat Ridge Transcript.

Documenting Needs and Desires/Applicant

Residents or business owners within the relevant neighborhood are invited and welcome to be heard in the process. They may attend the hearing, and after the initial presentation by the Applicant they may respond to the Applicant's assertions, or they may present contrary evidence in any form so long as the evidence is not unduly cumulative in the opinion of the Liquor Licensing Authority Board. Given this, residents or business owners are allowed to write personal letters expressing thoughts or concerns addressed to the City of Wheat Ridge Liquor Licensing Authority Board (7500 W. 29th Avenue, Wheat Ridge, Colorado 80033). They are welcomed to attend the hearing to participate personally by presenting testimony and to present their letters or opinions. In short they may advocate for or against the granting of the license depending on their views.

Persons wishing to participate and to offer their concerns or evidence to the Liquor Licensing Authority Board do need to have standing (meaning right to be heard) before the Liquor Licensing Authority Board will hear their testimony or review their letters, petitions, surveys or remonstrance's. The Liquor Licensing Authority Board has a general rule that persons or businesses within one-half (1/2) mile of the proposed location shall be considered to have such standing, as will all registered neighborhood groups with as least a portion of their membership within the area. Persons residing further than the one-half (1/2) mile area do not have automatic standing, but they may ask to make arguments or presentations. Whether such presentations will be heard is within the sole discretion of the Liquor Licensing Authority Board. Often the Liquor Licensing Authority Board will hear evidence from such persons if they can argue that while outside of the presumptive relevant area, they are part of a naturally integrated neighborhood that includes the proposed licensed site. Factors to be considered are natural boundaries formed by major roadways or physical points such as streams, fields, parks or greenbelts.

The Application Hearing

The Liquor Licensing Authority Board Chairperson will call the hearing to order. The Deputy City Clerk then reads into the record formal matters of the application. Next, except during declared emergencies and for 49 days afterwards, an impartial company presents the petitions and statements from the neighborhood survey. After this, applicants proceed to try to establish their case for license approval after having been placed under oath.

After the Applicant is finished, citizens have the right to address the Liquor License Authority Board either in favor or opposed to the proposed license. They will be placed under oath before their testimony is received. They too are subject to questioning by the Liquor and Beer Licensing Board members as well as by the Applicant.

The Liquor Licensing Authority Board will then discuss the item and render a decision to approve or deny the application.