Commonwealth Journal

Local News

January 5, 2013

Package store licenses still on hold

Somerset —  

Even though Somerset is now “wet,” those looking to pick up a little champagne to take home for New Year’s Eve knew they wouldn’t be able to do so in Somerset.

What they — and even city officials — don’t know is exactly how much longer it will be until they can.

While restaurants and bars are serving drinks by the glass and shoppers looking for beer can stop in nearly any gas station or grocery here in Somerset, liquor stores — those retailers for distilled spirits and wine — are still AWOL. 

That’s thanks to the type of license needed to operate one of those stores, available via the state’s Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) office. The “Retail Liquor Package” license is what’s called a “quota license,” meaning only a limited amount of them may be issued to a “wet” community, according to Kentucky law.

The number set for Somerset by the ABC? Five. The number of applicants? According to the notices of intent to file for a license as published in the Commonwealth Journal, 17 — including drug stores like CVS and Walgreen’s which would merely add these types of products to their current inventory. 

It’s up to the state ABC offices to decide which five out of that weightier number

Earlier estimates suggested that Somerset should have its liquors stores start popping up by this month, January of 2013. Mayor Eddie Girdler told the Commonwealth Journal in November that he expected the licenses to be decided upon by early December, with the stores beginning operation a month to three months later.

Yet here it is January — and still no word on when Somerset citizens will be able to legally buy wine, bourbon or vodka by the bottle.

“Nothing’s really changed; I’ve expected something soon for quite a while now,” said Nick Bradley, Somerset’s ABC Administrator, the local figure overseeing how businesses sell alcohol in a community. Bradley said he had “heard of a specific time ... sometime back” in the past, and “that time has come and gone.”

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