Commonwealth Journal

Local News

January 24, 2013

Can Somerset, ABC come to terms?

(Continued)

Somerset —

Passed up was Liquor World, a high-volume liquor retailer with stores in Richmond and Manchester, which had plans to invest $5 million in a renovation of the North Plaza shopping center, which would also likely include a national chain restaurant.
It was that kind of economic investment that Girdler was hoping for and believed that the state would grant the city — but it didn’t happen. Now Girdler is seeking to lobby the state to allow Somerset more than the five liquor store licenses the state allotted.
“We’ve been in correspondence with the state ABC about our options,” said Girdler. “Hopefully we’ll be able to resolve the issue.
“In addition to working with the state ABC, we’re pursuing every avenue, including legal,” he added. “Most of this has been done through our attorneys so far. Nick (Bradley, Somerset’s own ABC administrator) has done a great amount of work, particularly with the lake going up.”
That “work” refers to a detailed study of the impact more and larger liquor stores would have on the community, including traffic counts, the amount of retail sales, and more.
“We’ve done a whole lot of work on the number of jobs (that would be) created, (and) the location of facilities as related to the tourist population,” said Girdler, who noted that none of the liquor store were on the north side of town, close to the proposed I-66 interchange, or on the far south side near the southern bypass — two areas were tourist traffic would be most heavy.
A sobering discovery was made: Somerset would lose out on a projected $150,000 a year in alcohol fees based on the state’s decisions regarding the licenses.
“That’s way too much money to be giving away because of some internal politics in Frankfort,” said Girdler. “We shouldn’t be caught in that and lose $150,000 for the community. Our people voted for it, they expect certain things and demand certain things. For us to roll over and not fight for (what’s best for the city) is irresponsible on our part.”

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