FARMINGTON — Farmington City Council approved zoning requirements for a craft liquor distillery and tasting room within city limits at its Tuesday evening meeting.

But the business is far from opening.

Dennis Mould, of Farmington, wants to open the city's only craft liquor distillery at 4550 Rowe Ave. He still needs to meet federal and state regulations, buy a New Mexico liquor license, have that license approved by the city and pay a city fee every year he's open.

City Clerk Dianne Smylie said there are 59 liquor licenses in the city now and soon to be two more, once construction is done on the Buffalo Wild Wings on the corner of Main and Hutton streets and Texas Roadhouse in the Animas Valley Mall.

But Smylie is uncertain which of those licenses allow the sale of beer, wine or liquor, because the New Mexico Alcohol and Gaming Division issues the licenses that regulate those sales.

Farmington's annual liquor fees cost $250, according to city code.

Repeated efforts on Tuesday and Wednesday to reach an official in the New Mexico Alcohol and Gaming Division were unsuccessful.

An article published in August 2013 in the Four Corners Business Journal describes the state liquor licensing process. State liquor licenses can cost $450,000, and their supply is limited. Often, businesses sell the licenses among themselves, and brokers exist to facilitate the deals.

In the 2013 article, a report from the Rio Grande Foundation, an Albuquerque think tank, stated this licensing process limits smaller business from serving liquor and creates "artificial scarcity."

"It other words," the report states, "it creates a cartel run by those who can afford to invest outrageous sums in liquor licenses."

Mould is not yet certain whether he will open the liquor distillery because first, he said, he wants local support. But he's seen similar businesses open in Montana, Wyoming, Arizona and Colorado, he said.

Mould owns an old car wash and lube service shop on the 0.8-acre property where the business is proposed, and he has said he will refurbish those buildings to house the distillery.

Dan Schwartz covers government for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4606 and dschwartz@daily-times.com. Follow him @dtdschwartz on Twitter.