/ Articles / Presque Isle Town Board approves Carlin Lake Lodge liquor license

Presque Isle Town Board approves Carlin Lake Lodge liquor license

September 10, 2019

It’s been a focal point of a legal battle over whether or not water can be drawn from a well on its property and trucked up the road to a water bottling plant in Marenisco, Mich. for a few years now. 

But at last, Presque Isle’s Carlin Lake Lodge once again has a liquor license. 

The Presque Isle Town Board took action to approve a liquor license application for the business at its most recent regular meeting on Sept. 5. 

At a special meeting of the town board on Aug. 29, Presque Isle resident Jim Luedtke, who manages the lodge for owners Trig Solberg and Steve Kosnick, talked about the difficulty of staffing for the business. 

He told the town board at that meeting he’s tried unsuccessfully to open the bar and restaurant in the past three years.

Solberg and Kosnick’s attorney, John Houlihan, said after the liquor license approval last Thursday, the plan is to have the bar and restaurant open by Nov. 1. 

Running the bar/restaurant portion of the business will be Don Psenika, who Houlihan told The Lakeland Times in a brief interview after the town board’s decision is a lifelong resident of Presque Isle who he said has been involved over time in the development of many bars and restaurants in the area.

Luedtke said he was happy someone could be found “to take the bull by the horns.”

At the Sept. 5 meeting, town chairman Marshall Reckard had a condition to add to the town board’s approval of the liquor license application. 

It was with regard to the business being able to pass health and safety standards tied into the bar and restaurant since it had not been in operation since 2015. 

“Proof of that be given to the town and be in operation by Nov. 1,” he said. 

“And if the aren’t?” town supervisor Cathy Logan Weber asked.

“Well, they’ve got to come back and explain,” Reckard said. “They don’t have a license then. We would revoke the license then, OK?”

Houlihan asked for clarification. 

“Mr. Chairman, just so I understand, subject to if we are not open by Nov. 1 to come back to the town board and explain why we are not,” he said. 

“We have the option at that time to pull the license or not pull the license,” Reckard said. “I’m trying to be fair. I want to make sure we meet health and sanitary requirements ... understanding that the hotel has been in operation but the bar and restaurant has not been.”

“Very good,” Houlihan said. “Just as long as we have the opportunity for any reason to ... I’ve been advised this evening that they’re working hard to get it open as soon as possible but as long as we can come back.”

“If it’s a good reason,” Reckard said.

The timing

The legal battle over the well water on the property of the Carlin Lake Lodge wasn’t part of last week’s discussion. 

So far, Carlin Club Properties has essentially been thwarted in its efforts to be able to remove Carlin Lake Lodge well water for bottling purposes in Marenisco. 

Aside from court proceedings over the past few years that have found primarily on the side of the Carlin Lake Association, there was a three and half hour session of the Vilas County Board of Review held in July 2018, that resulted in a unanimous decision also on the side of the CLA. 

A primary reason for that was Vilas County zoning administrator Dawn Schmidt’s zoning ordinance interpretation.

In 1997 and with a different owner, the Carlin Club property was rezoned from general business to residential use. 

As long as the business maintained its lodging, restaurant and bar licenses, it could remain zoned as business despite the residential zoning designation change. 

Any change in use, however, would mean, at least according to Schmidt, a zoning violation.

The town board’s approval of the liquor license — and Psenicka’s work to get the Carlin Lake Lodge’s bar and restaurant up and running by Nov. 1 — come before another hearing on the Carlin Lake Lodge conducted by the Vilas County BOR scheduled for Thursday, Nov. 14. 

Brian Jopek may be reached via email at [email protected]

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