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Superior City Council minority blocks Super One liquor license

Miner’s Inc.’s plans to open a new liquor store adjacent to its new Super One in Superior’s East End are on hold Tuesday, after the Superior City Council failed to muster the votes needed to pass a motion to approve a liquor license.

The council voted 5-3 in favor of the motion to approve the liquor license, with two councilors with ties to Super One abstaining from the vote. Six votes were needed to grant the license.

Councilors voting against the motion — Dan Olson, Terry Massoglia and Warren Bender — cited a variety of reasons for their vote. All three stated they believed there were promises made that the Hermantown-based company didn’t follow through on.

Massoglia said he believes there are enough liquor stores in Superior and issuing the license would oversaturate the market, affecting longtime existing businesses. He also said he didn’t believe the company had been honest about its plans with neighboring East End merchants.

Walter Haugen, owner of Pudge’s in East End, told councilors he would have made different decisions concerning a land-swap to accommodate the newly constructed store had he known Miner’s wouldn’t stand by its word that there wasn’t going to be a bar and liquor store included in the project — what he called a “gentleman’s agreement.”

“To me, a gentleman’s agreement is as good as a written one,” Haugen said.

“You have to decide if there is integrity in the process,” said attorney Kyle Torvinen, who represented a number of bar and liquor store operators opposed to the license.

Olson said that he didn’t believe Miner’s acted in good faith.

“I’m a man of my word,” Olson said. “I take great pride in that.” However, the councilor said while there was an agreement to widen an alley behind businesses on East Fifth Street to provide parking behind those operations, the Hermantown-based grocer didn’t follow through with that.

However, councilors Bob Finsland, Dennis Dalbec, Esther Dalbec, Tom Fennessey0 and Jack Sweeney found no valid reason to withhold the license based on statements made years ago.

Councilors Mike Herrick and Denise McDonald, both with financial ties to Super One, abstained from voting. Herrick and McDonald’s husband works for Super One, and McDonald has regular business dealings with Super One through her employment.