Two Years of Town/County Obstruction Puts Minocqua Brewing Tap Room in Peril

Two Years of Town/County Obstruction Puts Minocqua Brewing Tap Room in Peril

Ok folks and the news media (that doesn't actually exist anymore in Northern Wisconsin thus our use of Facebook).

Here's an update on the ongoing two-year case of local government obstruction with regard to the Minocqua Brewing Company's proposed Tap Room in downtown Minocqua.

For a semi-complete rundown of how the town of Minocqua and Oneida county has turned a simple request for an outdoor beer garden into a 2-year long battle, go to this video of Kirk speaking to the Town Board after being purposefully left off the meeting agenda.

This video almost says it all, but we wanted to highlight two very important moments over the last few weeks that make it clear the town/county never intended to treat us equally to the other businesses in town.

A few weeks ago (as you can see in a newspaper clipping), the Town Board approved an application by the Yacht Club, a bar a few blocks away from the Minocqua Brewing Company, for a $2 million dollar expansion that by county codes would have required 47 additional parking spaces. The application only provided 17, and all of those parking stalls were smaller than the county codes required. The town gave them a full parking exemption, with Town Chairman Mark Hartzeim saying "You guys are doing good's a tough spot," and Plan Commission Member Mark Pertile said "They’re could you say no to someone coming in and spending $2M to make it a better facility?"

Exactly. The Minocqua Brewing Company has now invested over $800K into a landlocked building between two roads and another commercial business with a zero lot line between us. Our site houses a state historical landmark soon to be placed on the US Department of Interior's National Register of Historic Places, because we restored our building to look exactly like it did as a Texaco gas station built in the 1930s.

Seeing as there are no other public nationally recognized historic places in Minocqua (there are 3 privately owned boathouses on the register), there seemingly is no building in Minocqua more deserving of a parking exemption than ours, but the town has so far demanded that we put parking in an area designated for our beer garden when there's a perfectly good area to put parking right in front of our building, in a no-man's land the town annexed from us when we told them it wasn't technically ours.

That being said, this lot has changed hands no fewer than 7 times in the last 80 years, and no parking lot was ever required in this space before we bought it.

How a bar mere blocks from us was allowed to sail through the permitting process while we've been mired in obstruction for over two years is nothing less than an utter abdication of responsibility, fairness, and due process.

Now to bring us to the present.

After submitting an application to amend our previously approved building permit in order to add a beer garden 9 MONTHS AGO (June 29th, 2022), and being delayed interminably, we finally threatened the town and county last month (February) with a federal lawsuit unless they moved forward with our application.

After another month of more delays and sporadic communication, we received word from zoning official Karl Jennrich that he directed the town, on March 10th, to put our application on the next "next available town agenda," which any reasonable person would conclude would be 11 days later at last night's Town Board Meeting.

Last week, we noted that our application hearing was not posted on the the town's online agenda and reached out to Roben Haggart, town clerk, on three separate occasions to ask why our "new business" item had been omitted.

We received no communication back from her after three emails.

We decided we had to attend the meeting regardless and plead for them to put us on the agenda, as directed by their county zoning official, because we're running out of time to line up contractors to build our beer garden before the summer tourism season, and can no longer be delayed.

Finally, a mere hours before the meeting, we received an email from Karl Jennrich telling us that the meeting he was referring to was a town planning meeting that occured on March 28, which would then recommend action on a later meeting on April 5th, which would then kick the issue back the the County, in which they would hold a public hearing on this issue on April 19th.

Note the town of Minocqua is UNINCORPORATED, meaning it has no real jurisdiction over our beer garden application, and any request from the county for the town to vote on something is merely an "advisory recommendation."

The town doesn't HAVE to meet or vote on this, and since we've already been approved to build on this land two years ago with an approved Administration Review Permit (ARP) that we've been trying to amend since June to build a beer garden, the county's insistence on a public hearing this late in the game, instead of over the last 9 months, amounts to purposeful obstruction to delay a brewer's ability to lawfully (federal and state licenses) serve beer to its customers.

We have 73K facebook followers, distribute beer in 4 states, and by those standards, must be one of the largest businesses in Minocqua.

Yet we still can't serve beer in our taproom.

While we don't think it will do any good, here are the emails again to the most useless government officials we've ever come across. Please email them and encourage them, once again, to be better.

While you do this, we will again confer with our attorneys to understand the best course of action.

Thanks for reading.

Kirk Bangstad

Owner, Minocqua Brewing Company

P.S. Ours is a simple business trying to do a simple thing, and the all-to-common right-wing politics of vendetta and revenge have stymied us in our small tourist town of Northern Wisconsin.

P.P.S. List of emails and publicly posted phone numbers to call.
Town Chairman
Mark Hartzheim (created the agenda for each meeting, he had 11 days to put us on the agenda but refused)
Phone: 715-356-5296

Roben Haggart (refused to reply to our emails asking why we were left off the agenda)
Phone: 715-356-5296

Town Supervisors:

John Thompson (called for a facebook hate group of 683 members to come to meeting intimidate the Minocqua Brewing Company in a previous meeting)
Phone: 715-614-2909

Susan Heil
Phone: 715-588-7939

Brian Fricke
Phone: 715-218-5190

Erika Petersen
Phone: 715-356-7090

Karl Jennrich, who has slow-walked every application and communication we've ever provided, and illegally threatened to fine us for putting up our Biden Sign.
Oneida County Conservation, Planning and Zoning Director
P.O. Box 400
Rhinelander, WI 54501

County Board Chairman Scott Holewinski, who has the power to bipass this whole process and have the county vote to let us put a beer garden in:

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