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Hartland officials to hold public hearing on "floating licenses" issue

What happens to a liquor license once a restaurant closes? That's the question getting looked at in the village of Hartland where local officials are working through the process of trying to avoid so-called "floating licenses".

That term refers to liquor licenses that are not associated with a bar or restaurant. But the issue is challenging - especially when a restaurant owner says there is a chance he may re-open somewhere nearby.

J.C. Bogars Restaurant - once located in the downtown of the village of Hartland - had its liquor license issued just this past June. But even when it was open, it wasn't fully open, Village President Jeffrey Pfannerstill said.

"One time I even went myself and there was a sign in front of the restaurant directing people to a different municipality. So it raised eyebrows," Pfannerstill said.

The other restaurant is in Stone Bank: Bogar's Steakhouse. Its owner, Juan Montano, declined to go on camera for this story but he said his rent in Hartland was raised to an unaffordable level.

Then - in November - this was posted on Facebook: "After a wonderful run in Hartland, we are sorry to say we will be closing this location for good. We appreciate all the great customers who supported us..."

The liquor license, however, was not surrendered.

"So they become a hot commodity amongst business owners and when you are building a community - especially when it revolves around shopping, dining, and connecting - you want those being used," Pfannerstill said.

"The questions I would have is 'Where is the new establishment that you're planning to transfer the license to? When do you plan on opening it? Also, is there a plan in place or is it just a hope?" Pfannerstill said.

 The public hearing on the liquor license will continue next Monday, January 22.

 The village currently has the ability to issue 11 of those liquor licenses total, Pfannerstill said.

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