For immediate release
May 13, 2023
Media contact: Wayne Sorensen, building and zoning official, at 507-377-4340 or [email protected]

Albert Lea City Council puts pause on new off-sale liquor, cannabis, tobacco and sexually-oriented businesses

To ensure an equitable approach to regulating off-sale alcohol, cannabis, tobacco and sexually-oriented businesses, the Albert Lea City Council decided tonight to put a pause on applications for new, expanding or relocating these types of businesses. The moratorium will be 6 months or less.

Existing businesses may continue to operate. They may also apply for renewal of their licenses, or transferring them to new owners as long as the business space remains the same.

The public may learn more about the moratorium on these businesses and a draft ordinance on regulating their locations at an open house Wednesday, May 22, from 4:30 – 6:30 p.m., at City Hall, 221 E. Clark St. The public may also provide input on the proposed ordinance at the open house or by emailing Wayne Sorensen, building and zoning official, at [email protected].

The moratorium is in response to Minnesota legalizing recreational use of marijuana in 2023 and allowing new types of cannabis businesses to open in 2025 or earlier. The city council is concerned about the placement of cannabis businesses and regulating them with parity in regards to tobacco product shops, off-sale liquor sales and sexually oriented businesses.

The council is also concerned that these businesses will be concentrated in areas of Albert Lea where the community has invested in maintaining a historic nature, or where and how minors would be exposed to products they are prohibited from buying.

The city’s Development Services Department will study how best to regulate these businesses with the goals of protecting:

  • Public health
  • Safety
  • Neighboring properties
  • Economic viability
  • Public assets
  • General welfare of the city


The department will also study possible changes to official controls of these businesses, including the zoning code, related policy and how to improve the regulatory process.

While the council set a maximum time period of 6 months for the moratorium, the Development Services Department expects to make recommendations to the City Council before then. The recommendations may include changes in zoning laws and licensing requirements. The department will seek input from a wide spectrum of interested parties for determining its final proposals.

For more information, visit the Zoning for the Future webpage.