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Colorado Liquor Licenses

Posted by attorney Joel Judd

Like many states, Colorado has a dual licensing system. The local licensing authority

takes in the initial application. Local means Colorado's 64 counties and hundreds of

municipalities. They determine the good moral character of the applicant and the

reasonable needs and desires of the inhabitants of the neighborhood.

After review the local authority schedules a hearing. Along with meticulously

assembling the application, the key to success is petitioning and preparing witnesses for that hearing. Organic or ginned up by competitor, that's where ambush opposition

appears. When the hearing's successful, the local authority forwards the application to

the state. Following state approval, the local authority issues the license.

Tidbits:

•The framework for U.S. liquor license law dates back to the 1930's end of

prohibition, but the legislature tinkers with the law almost every year and every

state is different.

•In Colorado, most licenses are either on premises or off premises consumption

only. Brewpubs are a hybrid.

•Liquor store licenses are one to a customer. No person or company may have more than one location. 3.2 beer and on premises consumption licenses don't suffer that restriction.

•Restaurants (H&R licenses) must have real kitchens and serve meals – not so

for taverns. Neighborhoods fight taverns a lot harder than they fight restaurants.

•Many licensees must be 500 feet from schools; in Denver, liquor stores need to

be 1,000 feet apart.

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