Now that the election is over, Democracy in Wisconsin has been saved, and people are buying plenty of beer for Turkey Day, we turned our focus to building a new beer garden for our Tap Room in Minocqua next summer.
Why do we have to focus on next summer this early, you ask?
Because everything we do in Minocqua and Oneida County has been met with obstruction and harassment by “OBNOM,” our nickname for the Old Boys Network of Minocqua.
We’re now in the 3rd OBNOM war, entitled “The War of the Parking Lot.” In case you're counting, we lost the first two wars historically referred to as “The Demolition War,” and “The War of the Homeless Brewer.”
This third installment saw another skirmish yesterday, as our application to install a beer garden was stymied by our old friend Karl Jennrich, the County Zoning Administrator.
Note that this very same Karl that helped bring us global fame after threatening to fine us for putting a large Biden sign on our old building before the 2020 presidential election. Of course his letter to us violated federal laws that prohibit the regulation of the size of political signs.
This “War of the Parking Lot” is starting to get too long to recap in a few bullet points, but here goes:
- The Town of Minocqua decided to take a piece of land from us called the “pork chop,” when we informed them that it was an abandoned right-of-way on our land we technically didn’t own it, but wanted to resolve this issue before building our Tap Room.
- They then forced us to put a parking lot on our property where one could no longer fit because they took that pork chop. Note that prior to us owning it, there has never been a parking lot required on that property since it was a Texaco gas station in 1935.
- Last June, we asked the town to allow us to serve beer outside by submitting an amended permit application. Note, because we have a federal brewers license, we are legally allowed by to serve beer on our property, but the state asks us to abide by county zoning ordinances.
- Our friend Karl responded 5 weeks later, after the busiest month of the year, telling us he needed a $250 fee to even LOOK at the application, and then proceeded to give us three $400 citations for serving beer outside, because heaven forbid a brewery allow Wisconsinites to drink their beer outdoors in July, when it’s too cold to do so for 9 months out of the year.
- We never paid the cumulative $1,200 in citations, and told them we’d rather settle this whole thing in federal court. Our lawyer told us that we still needed to keep trying to work within the system to solve this problem even if it eventually ended up in court, which leads us to the present…
- We attempted to file for a Conditional Use Permit, or “CUP,” to build a beer garden, but we were thwarted by our friend Karl. Not only did he bounce our application back to us, he said we’d have to pay triple the fee, or $1,800 to submit our application, because we had previously been cited for serving beer to our customers outside. Note we did that only because he refused to get back to us in the busiest month of the tourism season.
Before we continue to tell this tale, let us digress for one moment and remind you of the wise words of our nation’s founder, Ben Franklin, who said “Beer is Proof that God Loves Us and Wants Us to be Happy.” Now, we can’t verify this, but we’re pretty sure he immediately followed up this historic quote by saying “And we should all drink it outside in July.”
So folks, what to do next?
As you can read in the last screen shot, where we responded to Karl’s bureaucratic jargon in red font, we’re giving them until the end of the year to do their jobs, stop punting and work with us, or we will be forced to take them to court, which we really don’t want to do.
What can you do?
As citizens or potential tourists to Minocqua, please remind the following people that trying to kill one of the most well-known and thriving businesses in Minocqua isn’t a good look, especially for Republicans who are supposed to support small business.
Here are the emails.
King of the OBNOM, Mark Hartzeim, Minocqua Town Chairman, email@example.com
Scott Holewinski, Oneida County Chairman, who refused to let us talk at the county zoning board meeting when they bounced the parking lot issue back to the Town, which doesn’t have jurisdiction, firstname.lastname@example.org
Karl Jennrich, County Zoning director who refuses to do his job but kow tow to OBNOM, email@example.com
Krystal Westfahl, Chamber of Commerce Director whose job it is to encourage tourism, but refuses to acknowledge that Minocqua’s government is anti-business and anti-tourist if you’re a Democrat. firstname.lastname@example.org