Minocqua Brewing Company decision postponed after contentious hearing

Published: Jul. 26, 2023 at 10:32 PM CDT|Updated: Jul. 27, 2023 at 9:48 AM CDT
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RHINELANDER, Wis. (WSAW) - The future of Minocqua Brewing Company is still in limbo. A hearing by the Oneida County Planning and Development Committee was supposed to either amend, suspend, or revoke the owner’s permit to operate.

Instead, the contentious meeting was cut short and postponed. At one point, emotions ran high on both sides.

While no decision on the brewing company’s owner Kirk Bangstad’s permit was made, the zoning director did explain why his permit is up for discussion.

“Aside from the dumpster and outdoor service violations, no mention is made of the other items that continue to be out of compliance,” said Karl Jennrich, Head of the Planning & Zoning Department.

During the meeting, Jennrich read an email out loud that the Town of Minocqua wrote about Bangstad’s additional violations. They say he doesn’t have outlined parking spaces on the ground and hasn’t installed a curb. Jennrich also read a letter by Scott Holewinski, the committee chairman.

In it, he said, “Mr. Bangstad has tried to get what he wants by using politics that divides the public, false statements, and defying the laws instead of listening to the ordinances that apply to everyone.”

Holewinski says he felt it was time to stop sending out threats about violations and let the committee decide what to do with Bangstad’s permit.

However, this decision was cut short. During Bangstad’s speech, the committee reprimanded him for straying too far from the discussion.

“I just want to be treated fairly and not be able to speak in public when there’s a hearing that shut my business down,” Bangstad said. “I believe it’s not really fair.”

The outburst came just moments after Bangstad’s attorney told the committee they would work with them to resolve the violations. He said his story would have lasted two more minutes, but instead, the committee shut him down.

“I would prefer to finish my statement. Can I finish my statement?” Bangstad stated.

“They shut it down. They left here. There’s nobody here right now,” Bangstad told us.

While members of the public seemed to be in agreement with Bangstad, there were people who disagreed.

“Well, he didn’t let the board… he was out of order. He wouldn’t let the other people speak. It all boils down to he didn’t do what he was supposed to do. He didn’t do his due diligence on the property he bought,” said Wayne Trapp, a general contractor in Minocqua.

Before the meeting was adjourned, Bangstad said the Oneida County Board received around 8,000 emails recently from people in support of his business.

“If we were really going to do this right, we would read all those emails. Just like you have read all the violations that have occurred to me over the last three years,” said Bangstad.

During the hearing, there was supposed to be an opportunity for public comment. Since it was adjourned, this wasn’t possible.

It’s unclear when the hearing will be rescheduled.