HIGHLAND | The Town Council has denied a request from the Chamber of Commerce for a beer tent during the upcoming Midwest Zest Fest.
The location, in the middle of Highway Avenue, was permitted over the past several years because a town ordinance prohibits alcohol sales on town property, including Main Square Park.
In the past, the council had closed Highway Avenue to allow the chamber to place the tent on the street adjacent to the park.
Council Vice President Dan Vassar, D-3rd, and Councilman Konnie Kuiper, D-2nd, have voted against the street location in the past.
This year, they were joined by Councilman Mark Herak, I-2nd.
Voting yes were Council President Bernie Zemen, D-1st, and Councilman Brian Novak, D-4th.
Vassar and Herak said they have nothing against the festival or the chamber.
"I believe that it sends the wrong message to the young people of our town and also presents unknown liability issues for the town and its taxpayers," Vassar said.
Herak said the liability issue is significant and that beer sales would be better served in the park itself.
"Wouldn’t it be safer in the park rather than in the middle of the street with the constant fear that a car might run through the barricade?" he said.
Zemen said he was disappointed in the vote.
"We just took several thousand dollars out of the pocket of the chamber," he said.
The festival, sponsored by the chamber, runs Sept. 7, 8 and 9.
The council voted along the same lines to deny a request from Growlers, 2816 Highway Ave., for a one-night beer garden in a town-owned parking lot at the corner of Kennedy Avenue and Highway.
Since its opening five years ago, Growlers, which sits next to the lot, has been allowed to have an anniversary celebration on the lot, including alcohol sales.
"We've had some concerns there in the past," Police Chief Pete Hojnicki said, including noise issues and some unruly patrons.
Zemen said the Redevelopment Commission, which owns the parking lot, will lose a $1,650 rental fee it would have charged Growlers.