Commonwealth Journal

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February 22, 2014

City’s case against ABC to move ahead

Appellate Court denies petition by state to dismiss liquor license lawsuit

Somerset —

It appears the city’s case against the state alcohol licensing board is moving forward. 
In an opinion handed down Feb. 18 and signed by Appellate Court Judge Janet L. Stumbo, the petition for a writ of prohibition, filed by the Kentucky Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control in the City of Somerset’s case against the ABC, was denied. 
The opinion is good news to the City of Somerset, which last year filed legal action against the state to force the ABC to answer how they arrived at the decision that the city should be awarded five quota liquor licenses and which businesses should get them. The city felt that the ABC ignored its projections for what would most economically benefit Somerset and made decisions in an “arbitrary and capricious” manner. 
Following the June, 2012 vote by Somerset citizens to allow legal alcohol sales within the city limits, expected plans for incoming liquor stores included a proposed $5 million investment by regional business Liquor World to not only locate in the North Plaza shopping center but renovate it and even bring in a chain restaurant interest.
Instead, the ABC issued licenses to three smaller-inventory stores — Apple’s Wine and Spirits, First Stop Party Supply, and Wildcat Beer, Wine and Spirits (though the city has noted that the latter was more in line with their expectations) — and two pharmacy chains with a limited supply, Rite-Aid and Walgreens.
The city felt that the ABC didn’t take their needs and economic forecast into consider-ation, and even held up issuing licenses to some of the above businesses while they tried a two-fold approach to working out a deal for more licenses — both through the courts and more directly. 
It seemed that the two parties would reach a compromise — allowing for the city’s court case against the ABC to initially be dropped — when, following administrative proceedings, the ABC agreed to increase the license allotment to Somerset. But that decision was quickly shot down after when a review subcommittee — of which Somerset’s own state representative Tommy Turner was a part — ruled the ABC’s regulations deficient. That decision sent the two parties back to the drawing board, and Somerset again turned to the court in August in seeking a resolution. 

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