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Public Hearings for Liquor Licenses

A public hearing is scheduled once all other requirements are complete.  The purpose is to determine whether the residents and business owners or managers of the designated neighborhood need and desire that a liquor license be issued.


Hearing Officers

Pursuant to Denver City charter Section A9, 10-1, the Director of the Department of Excise and Licenses appoints hearing officers who will hear matters before the Director that require a hearing.

If a Hearing Officer hears a case, he or she will issue a Recommended Decision to the Director.  If a case is contested, the Director will provide both sides and the City Attorney's office an opportunity to submit objections to a recommended decision.  After receipt of any objections, the Director will issue a final decision. 

If a Hearing Officer does not hear the case, the Director or a designated agent will hear the matter and will issue a final decision.


Designated Area

Department of Excise and Licenses will designate an area around the proposed location from which residents and business owners/mangers can sign petitions for or against the application and they may testify at the public hearing.  A designated area will be determined with the following guidelines:


Residential Areas

From the proposed location, the Department will count 5 blocks north, 5 blocks south, 5 blocks east and 5 blocks west.  These four points will be joined to form a square shaped area.


Downtown Denver

Downtown Denver will be divided into two segments as shown on a map.  From the proposed location, the Department will count 9 square blocks following the pattern of the block ends.  The result will be a square shaped area.


The Department of Excise and Licenses may modify a designated area to avoid cutting through blocks, residences, or businesses.  Any party in interest may petition the Direction of the Department to modify an established designated area.  The Director may modify an established designated area if good cause to modify is proven.



500 Foot Requirement

Applications for any class of liquor license will not be accepted if the proposed licensed premises is located within 500 feet of a public or private school that meets the compulsory education laws of Colorado


Applications for an Arts Liquor License

Applications for Hotel and Restaurant and or Brewpub locations within 500 feet of a college, university, seminary or other institution not subject to compulsory education requirements of the state. 

Preschools are not considered schools that meet the compulsory education requirements of the state.


Refer to Colorado Revised Statute, Section 12-47-326 for more information.




Applicant must post notice of public hearing at proposed licensed location 20 days before hearing date.

The sign:

White cardboard at least 22 inches wide by 26 inches tall with letters at least 1 inch tall. 

Contents provided by the Department of Excise and Licenses.

Must be plainly visible to the public

Must indicate the area in which petitions for or against the application may be circulated and from which witnesses may testify 

Must inform the public that petitions for evening hearings must be filed 20 days before the scheduled hearing date

Random inspections of the postings will be made by Department of Excise and Licenses



Department of Excise and Licenses will publish notice of license applications and hearing dates in a newspaper.



Department of Excise and Licenses will notify the following in writing the purpose, date and time of hearing:

Registered neighborhood organizations whose boundaries are within 200 feet of the proposed location

The City Council member in whose district the proposed license is located

The Division Chief of Patrol in the Denver Police Department




Petitions may be circulated as follows:

On forms prepared in conformity with a sample form provided by the Department of Excise and Licenses.

In the neighborhood as designated on the maps.

Beginning the second day following the first day of posting (Petitions circulated prior to this time will not be accepted.)

All signatures must be affixed to the petitions in the presence of the circulator of the petition.

Persons signing petitions should:

1)     Sign only his/her own name and address and the date signature was applied.

2)     Indicate if they are twenty-one years of age or older.

3)     Not sign any other petition.  (Persons desiring to change their position should appear at the hearing and have their names stricken.)

4)     Must be residents of the designated neighborhood or the owner(s) or manager(s) of a business located in the designated area

5)     Petition circulators need not appear at the hearing if such petition is filed with the Department of Excise and Licenses five days prior to the hearing and the petition circulator signs an affidavit which will be provided by the Department of Excise and Licenses.  Otherwise, petition circulators must appear and testify at the hearing in order for the petition to be accepted.

6)     Persons signing or circulating petitions may be subject to subpoena.


Read more about petitions. 



Testimony and Evidence

Applicant Testimony and Evidence 

The applicant must present at least one witness (other than the applicant) at the hearing to testify in support of the application regarding the needs and desires of the neighborhood in order for the application to be approved.


Witness Testimony

A maximum of three witnesses may testify at length for each side regarding the needs and desires of the neighborhood, excluding the applicant and any representatives of registered neighborhood groups.  Others who attend the hearing either for or against the application may testify as a group either for or against the issuance of the license. 


Elected Officials

Any elected official, whose area of representation includes any part of the designated area, will be allowed to testify regarding his or her position.


Neighborhood Organizations

A representative of a registered neighborhood association whose boundaries overlap those of the designated area may testify as to the position taken by the organization regarding an application.  The representative must live within the neighborhood and must be a member of the neighborhood organization. 


Party in Interest

A Party in Interest includes the following:


Adult resident of the designated area

Owner or manager of a business in the designated area

Individuals who manage or own properties in the designated area

Principal or representative of any school located within 500 feet of the premises of the proposed liquor license



Testimony given by someone who does not drink alcoholic beverages will not be considered as evidence to the needs of the neighborhood, but may be considered as evidence of that person’s desire for the issuance of a liquor license in the area.


Evening Hearings

Public hearings can be scheduled when applicants are unable to attend a public hearing in the daytime hours.  Such hearing will begin at 6 p.m. on the same date it was originally scheduled to take place or a date as close as possible to the previously scheduled hearing date. 

Any party desiring an evening hearing must make application for such at least 20 days prior to the hearing. (A minimum of 25 signatures is required.) The decision as to whether or not to grant an evening hearing is within the discretion of the Director.  

Forms for such application are available at the Department of Excise and Licenses.



Issuing a Decision

Presiding party issues a written Recommended Decision.

Copy of the Recommended Decision is sent to representatives for each side and the Assistant City Attorney who participated in the license hearing.

Opposing parties have ten (10) calendar dates from the date of the mailing the decision to file objections

Any party who files objectives must mail a copy of written objections to any party who requests such notice at the hearing.

Director may grant a representative 10 days from the date of the filing of the written objections in which to file a written reply to the objections.  In that case, the 30-day time frame within which to issue a final decision will be extended. 

Director issues a final written decision which is mailed to the representative for each side.

The Director’s decision is subject to judicial review by the Denver District Court.