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Produced & Maintained by Idaho Mountain Express, Box 1013, Ketchum, ID 83340-1013 
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Copyright © 2003 Express Publishing Inc.
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Wednesday — February 25, 2004


Bill could provide
liquor license for
new Ketchum inn

Express Staff Writer

The Idaho Senate endorsed legislation Friday, Feb. 20, that would allow the city of Ketchum to issue a liquor license to the developers of a proposed 80-room hotel in the city’s downtown core.

Ketchum attorney and developer Brian Barsotti had a lot of good news to smile about Friday. Express photo by Willy Cook

In a 24-11 vote, the Senate approved Senate Bill 1252, which would allow the councils of small cities to issue new liquor licenses in excess of those that exist through the state’s population-driven quota.

The bill proposes to amend existing liquor-license law to allow cities with a population of less than 5,000 residents to issue a new license to the owners or operators of a minimum 60,000-square-foot conference and lodging facility with at least 60 guest rooms. The facility must be built after July 1, 2004, and must have a minimum taxable value of $15 million.

The bill would allow development partners Brian Barsotti and Mariel Hemingway to acquire a liquor license for their planned 85,000 square-foot luxury hotel and conference center proposed for a parcel at the southern entrance to Ketchum.

The project has been estimated to cost $35 million.

Barsotti said Friday that he has lobbied in favor of the bill because of the steep costs and general shortage of liquor licenses for sale on the open market.

Under the quota system, cities can receive a minimum of two licenses and one additional for every 1,500 people or fraction thereof.

Currently, 11 liquor licenses are held in Ketchum. Barsotti and his supporters have argued that none of the owners of those licenses are willing to sell at a reasonable price.

The record sale price for a liquor license was $425,000 in the 1990s in the Sun Valley area.

Any new licenses issued under the new law would not be transferable to other parties or businesses.

To gain final approval, the bill will have to be passed by the House State Affairs Committee and the House of Representatives, before being signed into law by Gov. Dirk Kempthorne.

(The AP contributed to this report.)


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The Idaho Mountain Express is distributed free to residents and guests throughout the Sun Valley, Idaho resort area community. Subscribers to the Idaho Mountain Express will read these stories and others in this week's issue.