Commonwealth Journal

Local News

July 10, 2013

Spirited Debate

Girdler & Turner’s disagreement over liquor stores creates brew-haha among alcohol control officials

Somerset —

Rarely have potables been so political as they are in Pulaski County, where a veritable war of words has erupted between mayor and state legislator over an effort to bring more liquor stores to Pulaski County.
On Tuesday, a Kentucky legisla-tive subcommittee acted to deny Somerset’s effort to obtain additio-nal liquor licenses over the five the state had tentatively approved back in January. Sitting on that panel was Pulaski’s state representative Tommy Turner.
The decision of the Administrative Regulations Review Subcommittee could have ripples across the state, noted Somerset Mayor Eddie Girdler, who was not at all happy — if not surprised — with what took place in Frankfort this week.
“It’s not unexpected,” said Girdler. “We knew based on the information that we had that the committee would not be for us at this stage.
“There are 23 other cities involved, and only one person who sits on that board who represents Somerset,” added Girdler, referring to Turner. 
The City of Somerset had successfully lobbied the Kentucky Department of Alcoholic Beverage this past spring to grant the city five additional Retail Liquor Package licenses for liquor stores (those selling distilled spirits and wine; beer licenses are unlimited) after the agency had originally granted the city only five such quota licenses back in January — and selected to receive them were stores that Girdler felt were too small to provide the sort of economic he was hoping for (such as from Liquor World and its planned $5 million investment in a local shopping center).
Girdler’s case was that the city represented a bigger market than the population of just under 12,000 would suggest, due to county size and tourism, and that the town could support more than five liquor stores — and if it couldn’t, that the free market should be allowed to sort that out. The ABC consented and brought Somerset’s issue to the table along for review of regulations of almost two dozen other Kentucky communities relating to liquor licensing.

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