SF City Council defers Walia liquor license renewal to Dec. 17

Local News

The liquor license renewal of a Sioux Falls business located near a homeless shelter is up for debate Tuesday night- and the conversation is not over.

Walia Convenience Store is located just east of downtown Sioux Falls, steps away from the Bishop Dudley Hospitality House, and on Tuesday night the Sioux Falls City Council considered the renewal of its liquor license. In a letter posted with this item on Tuesday night’s City Council agenda, a law enforcement officer writes that the store “is a large contributor if not the number one seller of alcohol to the transient population in the area.”

Councilors Pat Starr and Greg Neitzert would end up on opposite ends of the vote Tuesday night.

“I don’t like deferring these things, especially when people have come out on a winter night to discuss them, I wish we had a better way,” Starr said. “The applicant did send us all an email … last week during the holiday, they’ve made some good points of how they’d like to address it, and I want to give them the ability to do that.”

“I just want to get on record that I personally have seen documentation that shows me that this applicant has been aware of problems and has been unwilling to address them, and so I’m not interested in deferring this,” Neitzert said.

The council voted 5 to 3 to defer the issue to the meeting on Dec. 17. Shortly after that, KELOLAND News talked to Michael Alemu, the store owner’s son-in-law, for his reaction to the deferral.

“Well we’re really happy that this got deferred, obviously, because we’re trying to get prepared and come up with a concrete, solid plan and present to them that we are not the villains that we are put out to be,” Alemu said.

We asked him what actions will be taken in these two weeks.

“We will be meeting with businesses within the area, we will be meeting with individuals within the neighborhood, we will be working, we will be onboarding staff that will help us secure the area, we will be working with law enforcement,” Alemu said.

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