Casper City Council on Tuesday approved actions about two liquor licenses, but not before a restaurant owner and the mayor blamed the changes on the voter-approved smoking ban in November.

Council set a public hearing for Feb. 2 for the transfer of a retail liquor license held by the Sandbar Lounge at 100 N. Ash St., to the nearby Modern Electric Co. The license for the Sandbar will be "parked" with Modern Electric for two years.

It also held a public hearing for the transfer of the corporate ownership of Frosty's Lounge at 520 S. Center St., with the license staying with the corporation.

Both bars have been owned by Nancy Goddard, who told the council she is transferring the ownership of Frosty's to her daughter and granddaughter.

During the public hearing, Poor Boys Restaurant owner Pat Sweeney said the closure of the Sandbar was a result of the Nov. 3 city referendum in which voters approved a total smoking ban in all buildings with public access.

Sweeney complimented Goddard for the improvements she made, especially working with law enforcement, after she took over the ownership of the Sandbar.

"Personally, it's a sad day that we lose an operator of that character," Sweeney said. "She's worked hard to work with the police department in fighting different crimes."

Like Sweeney, Mayor Daniel Sandoval bemoaned the results of the smoking referendum, saying that he commiserated with Goddard at the Natrona County Clerk's Office when the voting results were coming in.

"I think that the true measure of whether or not we should impose rules and laws and ordinances is if they're necessary," Sandoval said. "And we worked out a compromise, and it (the referendum) wasn't necessary."

In other action, council on first reading approved the ordinance to rezone the 1.9-acre Hembree Addition on Robertson Road along the North Platte River. The rezoning will enable the land to be divided into four new lots for residential housing.

Council also approved a nearly $1.6 million contract with Grizzly Excavation and Construction Co. for the second phase of the 15th and Elm streets improvement project; authorized the $367,000 for the wastewater treatment plant preliminary facilities plan; authorized $56,000 for parts to fix a conveyor belt at the plant; and approved a lease agreement between the city and the Downtown Development Authority on the Ash Street Plaza Professional Office Building for the temporary use by state employees.

The latter action, part of the city's $3 million commitment to the David Street Station plaza, prompted citizen Paul Paad to wonder how the city is accounting for the $350,000.

Paad said he thought the DDA would be getting that money from the state for the rent, but that doesn't sound like what the lease is doing, he said. "It sounds like we're getting our own money back."

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