Commonwealth Journal

Local News

July 10, 2013

Spirited Debate

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


Somerset —

Girdler noted that the five license figure had never been set in stone yet — all this was merely part of a process. 
When things got to the subcommittee, however, Turner disagreed.
“What is important is what the people voted for,” he said. “The people voted for five and so that’s what I support.”
At the time of the June 26, 2012 election, no quotas for liquor licenses had even been considered by state ABC — that didn’t happen until months later, after potential store owners had filed applications following the election — and there was nothing about five licenses on the ballot.
Turner, however, told the Commonwealth Journal that “a lot of people believed that based on population, there would be five licenses.” 
CNHI News Service Frankfort correspondent Ronnie Ellis reported in an article on Tuesday’s meeting that the ABC Board pointed out that since 1983 when the state began using the one license per
2,300 residents formula — which would equal approximately five based on Somerset’s city population — only two cities voted to go “wet” in the next 25 or so years. But in the last five, 22 cities have approved such referenda and often those cities can support more than the number of licenses produced by the formula, especially wet cities in otherwise dry counties.
ABC legal counsel Steve Humphress said the board has in the past awarded all of a county’s potential licenses to wet cities in dry counties, citing Bowling Green as an example. He and ABC Commissioner Freddie Higdon said there were no objections to the change at a public comment hearing and economic studies indicate the city can support more than five licenses.
Additionally, Higdon said, if the board allotted licenses based on Pulaski County’s population of 64,000 as it did in Bowling Green there could be as many as 23 licenses in Somerset.

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