Nerney left to the courts |

Nerney left to the courts

City Council will not address liquor license revocation

Brandon Gee

Steamboat Springs — The new Steamboat Springs City Council will keep its hands off the revocation of Kevin Nerney's liquor license. — The new Steamboat Springs City Council will keep its hands off the revocation of Kevin Nerney's liquor license.

— The new Steamboat Springs City Council will keep its hands off the revocation of Kevin Nerney’s liquor license.

Last month, in its first meeting with five new members, the City Council – at the request of Nerney’s attorney, Kris Hammond – voted to consider staying the punishment handed down by the previous City Council. That consideration was scheduled for today, in a meeting as the Steamboat Springs Liquor License Authority. But Tuesday night, the new council changed its mind, deciding in a 5-2 vote to let Nerney’s appeal run its course in District Court.

Hammond called the reversal “cruel.”

“That goes beyond unfair,” Hammond said in comments prior to the vote. “Kevin feels as though, now, council is playing games with him. Consider how that appears not only to Kevin, but all the citizens of Steamboat Springs.”

The previous City Council voted 3-2 in November to revoke Nerney’s liquor license after two days of quasi-judicial hearings. The hearings were in response to allegations that Nerney made unlawful sexual contact earlier this year with a patron at his bar, the Pirate’s Pub in Ski Time Square. Nerney was found innocent of the charges in criminal court, but the council, acting as the city’s Liquor License Authority, moved forward with the hearings and voted unanimously – using a more flexible standard of proof – that Nerney was guilty of the allegations.

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Collette Erickson, the city’s prosecutor for the hearings, also spoke at Tuesday’s meeting.

“I would urge you to consider that Mr. Nerney has another option available to him and that’s the District Court,” Erickson said. “I would urge you to let that process play out.”

Additionally, City Attorney Tony Lettunich noted that Nerney could request an injunction of his punishment in conjunction with his appeal, although there is no guarantee such a stay would be granted.

Council members Meg Bentley, Scott Myller, Cari Hermacinski, Loui Antonucci and Steve Ivancie voted against reconsidering the revocation, while councilmen Jon Quinn and Walter Magill voted to reconsider and follow through with the decision council made last month.

Nerney’s wife, Kathy Nerney, said she didn’t learn until Tuesday morning that City Council would reconsider the action it took last month. She said City Council did not contact her or her husband. She said a letter was sent only to Hammond, who only recently returned from a vacation.

“We are in total shock,” Kathy Nerney said. “They knew that Kris was on vacation.”

Ski Time SquareSki Time Square

Ski Time Square

Also Tuesday, the City Council gave feedback to the developers of a 1-million-square-foot redevelopment project that will replace the existing Ski Time Square and Thunderhead Lodge. The Atira Group, in conjunction with Washington-based Cafritz Interests, is developing the project. Cafritz purchased the properties earlier this year.

The project is in its pre-application phase, so council members only gave feedback on conceptual plans for the project and did not take any formal action. City Council, like the Steamboat Springs Planning Commission, was disappointed that the project didn’t include a relocation of the existing Ski Time Square Drive. The city’s Mountain Town Subarea Plan calls for the road to be relocated to the north, allowing for a pedestrian-friendly plaza at the ski base.

Mark Matthews, a vice president of development for The Atira Group, said negotiations with adjacent property owners are progressing in efforts to realign the road, but there is not yet an agreement.

Council members suggested the road realignment would be a non-negotiable condition of the project’s approval. Hermacinski went as far to suggest the city consider employing its powers of condemnation.

“We’re going to make this work,” Antonucci said, “because this is what the community wants.”

Other actionOther action

Other action

The City Council voted unanimously Tuesday to repeal a temporary moratorium on demolitions to structures deemed historic.

The moratorium was put in place by the previous City Council in September to serve as a “timeout” while the newly formed Historic Structures Policy Review Committee revisits the city’s historic preservation policies, but the current council decided the moratorium was unnecessary for the committee to do its work effectively.

At a meeting last week, that committee unanimously came to the same decision.

Calling the moratorium a “dead horse,” its proponents did not lobby City Council on Tuesday to keep it in place, but rather urged them to diligently study historic preservation in advance of considering the committee’s recommendations, due in April.

In other action Tuesday, City Council appointed John Fielding and Johnny Walker to the Historic Preservation Advisory Commission, which reviews development applications involving structures deemed historic under the city’s existing ordinances.

– To reach Brandon Gee, call 871-4210

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