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Draught Works Brewery will soon be able to stay open later into the evening following a vote by the Missoula City Council to approve a conditional use tavern license for the business.

The new tavern license means the brewery can serve beer and wine at its location until 2 a.m., and lifts the limit on the number of drinks a patron can have. The change will also allow the brewery to produce more than 10,000 barrels per year, its current limit. Right now the brewery produces about 3,000 barrels.

Jeff Grant, co-owner of Draught Works, said for his company, which has been in operation for almost four years, the move is the next step in its growth. He said the brewery, which he described as “family friendly,” sees the jobs it creates as careers, citing benefits such as health insurance, gym memberships and a retirement plan for its employees.

The conditions of the permit are that the business comply with zoning restrictions and install a bike corral. Councilman Ed Childers proposed a condition that Draught Works would have to close at 10 p.m., as is the case in a similar permit given to KettleHouse’s brewery on Myrtle Street. Grant said he has no intention of staying open until 2 a.m., but wants the flexibility to occasionally be open until midnight.

“If this place turns (into) nightclub ruckus, it means that I’ve left Missoula,” he said.

Council members Emily Bentley and Jason Wiener said setting hours of operation on a case-by-case basis would be a mistake, and said if the city wanted to have such a restriction it should set it as a standing rule that would apply to all such permits. Councilmen Mike O’Herron and Bryan von Lossberg said they didn’t see how the Draught Works case was different than the KettleHouse license, and also that the behavior of bar patrons changes later into the night. Councilman Alex Taft opposed the time limit.

“We do have solutions to traffic, parking and noise,” he said in opposition, citing some of the complaints for expanding hours. “I think I have a ‘we’ll see’ attitude on this.”

The amendment failed, as did another by O’Herron to limit hours to 11 p.m., and the council passed the conditional use tavern license 11-1, with only Childers voting no.

Several members of the public, including representatives from the Montana Brewers Association and other breweries in Montana, spoke in support of the measure. John Iverson, a representative of the Montana Tavern Association, spoke in support of the license. He asked that no special conditions, including a limit on hours, be placed on the license for Draught Works.

“Allow the business to make the right choice for their customers,” he said.

Alex Strickland and his wife Keriann, who lives near Draught Works, said he approved of the license, but had some concerns about allowing the hours of operation to go until 2 a.m. Richard Kuschel, a representative of the Warehouse business next door, said his only concern is the available parking.

“My property, the Warehouse, has been the go-to place for everybody to park,” he said.

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The other co-owner of Draught Works, Paul Marshall, said the bar will continue to provide a family-friendly atmosphere if it stays open later.

“We won’t put up with rowdy behavior, we just won’t,” he said.

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In honor of the girls' softball team that recently won the Senior League Softball World Series, Mayor John Engen declared Aug. 17 to be Zootown All-Stars Day. Engen read out the names of the 15 girls who had been a part of the team, several of whom were in attendance at the meeting.

Following a hearing, the council, along with the Missoula County commissioners, unanimously approved the purchase of a roughly 75-acre parcel of riparian area that currently sits next to the Tower Street Conservation Area.

The parcel is currently owned by Harvey and Mitzie Clouse. It will connect the conservation area to the far edge of an island in the Clark Fork River already owned by the city.

"It will create a contiguous band of public ownership on the north shore of the river," said Elizabeth Erickson, open space program manager with Missoula Parks & Recreation.

She said the area is an important habitat to protect for various species of fish as well as 12 species of birds of conservation concern. The purchase will be with up to $90,000 from the city's open space bond passed in 2006, although Erickson said the purchase will likely require a little less than $70,000 from the fund.

The council unanimously approved expenditure claims of $524,718.66, as well as a roughly $19,000 purchase of fleet maintenance software for the Missoula Fire Department and more than $32,000 to Jackson Contractor Group related to the building of the Grant Creek Trail, among other business.

The city council also approved $66,182.60 for claims related to the Mountain Water acquisition, with all members voting in favor except Ward 2’s Adam Hertz. It also approved a resolution levying an assessment on special lighting districts in the amount of $314,052.44, another on the Missoula Park District Number One for $931,280, and a third on Road District Number One for $1,604,151. Hertz voiced opposition to the use of the special districts as a fundraising mechanism. The assessments will pay for maintenance and improvements in the districts for projects in the 2016 fiscal year.

In his closing comments, Engen congratulated the work of city staff and NorthWestern Energy on the work they did during last week’s storm.

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