The Grand Forks City Council's Committee of the Whole on Monday, Oct. 11, moved to drop the alcoholic beverage serving age by a year for restaurant employees.

The committee moved to change the age from 19 to 18 for employees who serve alcohol and collect money for those beverages in local restaurants.

City Administrator Todd Feland noted the council has made several changes regarding alcohol licenses since the pandemic and said the Grand Forks business community is grateful for the changes.

A letter from the Grand Forks/East Grand Forks Chamber of Commerce noted that Grand Forks seems to be the only city in North Dakota that does not allow 18-year-olds to serve and accept payments for alcoholic beverages. Minnesota also has a statewide policy allowing 18-year-olds to serve alcohol.

The motion carried with one dissension, from Katie Dachtler. It still needs approval from the full City Council before the ordinance is finalized.

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Following the meeting, an Indigenous People’s Day celebration was held at City Hall.

In other business:

  • Prior to the committee of the whole meeting, council members listened to a public hearing on a property development agreement from the downtown Block V project.

    On Feb. 1, the Grand Forks City Council approved for Block V a property tax incentive in the form of a PILOT (Payment in Lieu of Tax) and a Grand Forks Growth Fund loan of $900,000. Block V, located at 2 N. Third St., and formerly known as St. John’s Block, is being remodeled into apartments, retail space and a plaza by Grand Forks-based Icon Architectural Group.

  • The committee of the whole also approved a budget amendment relating to the renovation of City Hall. City staff have been evaluating the layout of City Hall to make it more accessible to the public for business development and to create sufficient space for departments, to meet their current and future needs. These changes also seek to help with workforce recruitment and retention efforts in providing updated, properly sized and equipped work areas for staff. Phase 1 of the project was completed in 2021, addressing needs on the first and third floor of City Hall.

    The cost for the second floor renovation is estimated to be $545,000, and $100,000 can be absorbed within the 2021 Public Building Fund budget due to other cost savings in the fund, according to city documents. There is cash carryover available to cover the remainder of the estimated cost, according to city documents. A budget amendment in the amount of $445,000 was needed to bring the cash balance into the 2021 budget. The work for Phase 2 renovations will be bid and will come back to the City Council for approval. The amendment still needs to approved at a full City Council meeting.