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After mitigation attempts, city pulls Opinion's liquor license

Recently condemned by the city, Opinion Brewing has now lost its liquor license as well. William Loeffler / RiverTown Multimedia

NEWPORT — The city council pulled Opinion Brewing's liquor license at the March 1 meeting following the Jan. 1 condemnation of the building, leaving owners Autumn and Derrick Lehrke without a building and without a license.

The council voted 5-0 to revoke the license, an action which "effectively puts them out of business," council member Tracy Rahm said.

The owners have been working to reverse the condemnation of the building the city issued Jan. 1, but have not filed any permits that the city can approve. On Jan. 30, they submitted and amended a fire alarm permit application without the architect's permission, violating the copyright.

"It's hard for me to go against a business in Newport," council member Bill Sumner said. "But there have been multiple opportunities to submit information to show that they're making progress, they have a false submittal, and we have violations."

Their current liquor license for the business at 374 21st St. expires June 30, but council decided to revoke it sooner based on violations and the lack of improvements made in the building.

"Based on this record you can decide in the interest of public safety, that that facility is currently not usable, and if the facility is not usable for a liquor license, there will be no liquor license," City Attorney Fritz Knaak said.

The city and the owners have been butting heads over permits, occupancy, licensing and regulations since last June. Sumner said council, staff and the Washington County Sheriff's Office have spent enough time on the ongoing issues with Opinion Brewing.

"It's been a big burden on the city for a long time, and we don't have a valid submission of any building permits to indicate that they're moving in the direction that they would need to be in order to be opening in the near future," Sumner said. "Based on what we've seen, it's inevitable that that place is going to be shut down without them operating in it."

Lehrke stated that he plans to appeal the decision on his Facebook page.