Janesville32°

Supreme Court rules in favor of club owner

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AMES, ANN MARIE
July 6, 2012

— The Wisconsin Supreme Court ruled Thursday in favor of a Hanover man who owns a Wisconsin Dells adult nightclub, affirming that municipalities must give due process when modifying liquor licenses.

The ruling gives clarity to licensing laws in the state, particularly for venues such as resorts or golf courses, officials from the Wisconsin Tavern League have said.

The case centers around the description of the property on the liquor license held by Wisconsin Dolls, a strip club near the Wisconsin Dells owned by Jim Halbach of Hanover.

The town of Dell Prairie issued a license to the club in 2004, and the license was renewed until 2009. At that time, a new town clerk noticed the license was for all eight acres of the club's property. The town in 2009 decided the license was too vague and needed to be amended.

Halbach did not think the town had the authority to do so and sought review from Adams County Court.

Halbach formerly owned a strip club in Janesville and still owns Diamond Jim's Isabella Queen strip club at Highway 51 and Townline Road.

Judge Charles Pollex dismissed the Adams County case, and Halbach appealed. An appeals court ruled in favor of the town and the county, finding that the club's original license was never valid because it was too vague.

The state Supreme Court disagreed Thursday.

The legislature never intended for alcohol to be served only in buildings, according to the Supreme Court ruling.

"The license posting requirement (in state statutes) applies to gigantic indoor and outdoor venues as well as small corner taverns," according to the court document.

A municipality has the authority to limit the area of the premise at the time the license is granted, according to the court document.

The Supreme Court's decision sends the case back to Adams County Court and orders the court to order the town to restore the license to include all eight acres of the property, according to court documents.

Halbach previously said he took the case to the Supreme Court because many tavern owners do not know the appeals court ruling could have allowed municipalities to amend licenses without due process.



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