So does that mean that with no regulations, communities could open an unlimited amount of liquor stores? Girdler wouldn’t go that far, but he did suggest that a case could be made for basing Somerset’s quota on regulations that go by county population.
“To me, it defaults back to the only regulation in place (and) because of our population (of about 64,000), the county is theoretically eligible for 26 licenses,” said Girdler. “Richmond, Bowling Green, other cities do it by the previous regulation, that let competition and market forces decide who will survive.
“Ten (licenses), in my view, is a whole lot better (for the existing stores) than 26,” he added. “We think though that the ABC and governor’s office will reach some type of reasonable assurance. The ABC has the power. The committee cannot tell the ABC what to do. (Governor Steve Beshear) has always been gracious to Somerset. We have had a strong working relationship with his office, and we think he’ll look at what benefits the entire state and not single out Somerset.”
The three liquor stores pursuing legal action with attorneys present for the meeting — Wildcat Beer, Wine and Spirits, First Stop Party Supply, and Apple’s Wine and Spirits (two liquor retailers not involved are pharmacy chains Rite-Aid and Walgreens) — issued a statement to the Commonwealth Journal on Wednesday claiming victory following this week’s subcommittee ruling.
“Today the legislative committee overseeing regulations setting the number of liquor licenses in Somerset voted to disapprove an additional five licenses,” read the statement. “We commend the legislative committee for finding that Somerset should have five licenses, as already provided in the law, and for voting against changing the rules after they had been relied on by the people and businesses in Somerset.
“We thank the senators and representatives on the committee, with a special thanks to Representative Turner, who stood up for what is right and to require that the law be followed.”
First Stop owner Charlotte Perdicaris was quoted by Ellis in his article for CNHI as singling out the Richmond-Manchester retailer Liquor World as being the source of the disagreement.
“This is all about Liquor World,” she said after Tuesday’s hearing. “They did not get a license and we did. That’s what this is about.”