Commonwealth Journal

Local News

January 31, 2013

Somerset challenging liquor license quotas

Four of five approved by state not to receive licenses from city -- yet

Somerset —  

The City of Somerset is moving ahead with plans to pursue legal action in regards to the state’s distribution of liquor store licenses.
In the meantime, those applicants that the Kentucky Office of Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) gave the green light to open package stores are being held in limbo until the mat-ter can be resolved.
Somerset Mayor Eddie Girdler told the Commonwealth Journal on Wednes-day that the city and Somerset’s ABC Administrator Nick Bradley have filed a complaint against the state ABC and Tony Dehner in his official capacity as acting commissioner and distilled spirits administrator.
The complaint, filed in Pulaski Circuit Court, alleges that the “quota” number of Retail Liquor Package licenses approved for Somerset by the state ABC  — that is, a set number of licenses that may be given out to open package stores that sell distilled spirits and wine — is “arbitrary and capricious, and in conflict with the City’s rights under Section 2 of the Kentucky Constitution,” according to a statement issued by law firm Sturgill, Turner, Barker & Moloney, PLLC.
While the number of licenses for stores to sell beer, or restaurants to serve alcohol by the drink, are unlimited, package stores for hard liquor and bars falls under the “quota license” category. State alcohol officials are able to determine both the number of licenses a “wet” community receives and who they approve to get them.
Because the ABC chose smaller liquor retailers, including both local entrepreneurs and national drug store chains Walgreens and Rite-Aid, and did not approve Liquor World — a high-volume retailer ready to make a multi-million dollar investment that the city was counting on — the city stands to lose $150,000 a year in fee revenue, according to Girdler.
As such, the city is seeking to work out a deal with Kentucky ABC to add more quota licenses to Somerset’s allotment — or to see what the courts can do for them.

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