Colbert County Alcohol License or lack thereof
By: The Midnight Rider
To catch everyone up for this article, I am posting this article that was recently published in the Times Daily Newspaper.
TUSCUMBIA — For the second time in as many meetings, the Colbert County Commission has denied a business owner's request for a license to sell package beer.
Randy Agee, owner of the Rayo Mart on Second Street, about 2 miles east of the Constellium plant, said he plans to appeal the commission's decision in court. He said the store was started by his mother and father and has been in business for 34 years.
They've never sold alcohol, but business has declined since the International Paper Co. closed its plant in Courtland. Agee said they were also impacted by the closure of the Hillshire Farms plant in Florence. Each plant employed about 1,100 workers.
Agee told county commissioners he planned to use the additional revenue to build a 3,000 square foot building behind the current location. He said the building they're in is 35 years old.
"We've tried to be a good neighbor to everyone," Agee said.
Some of his neighbors, members of nearby churches and the chief of the Nitrate City Volunteer Fire Department, spoke out against Agee's desire to sell beer. A petition from four nearby churches that oppose alcohol sales was presented to the commission.
Nitrate City Volunteer Fire Department Chief Eddie Osborn said he appreciates the store being there, but he's concerned about traffic around the store when firefighters are responding to calls. He said there has been an increase in calls in their service area.
Commissioners voted 3-2 on party lines to deny the license request. Democrats Jimmy Gardiner and Charles Hovater voted for the license, while Republicans David Black, Darol Bendall and Tommy Barnes voted against it. The store is in Barnes' district.
"I can see both sides of this issue," Gardiner said.
He noted there have been several liquor license requests during his time on the commission, and until the previous meeting, none had been opposed.
"I appreciate Mr. Agee and I can certainly understand his predicament," Gardiner said. "Alcohol is legal in Colbert County, so it is a perplexing issue for me personally."
Barnes said he understands the safety issues and the proximity to day care centers and churches.
"It is a tough consideration," he said.
One of the residents in opposition mentioned the proximity to Nitrate City Church of the Nazarene, which is a few hundred feet behind the store.County attorney Edgar Black said a local act that prohibited the location of establishments that feature nude or topless dancing 1 mile from a church or day care does not apply to convenience stores that sell alcohol.
A new Dollar General store in Leighton sells alcohol and is located next door to a church. That license, however, was approved by Leighton and not the county commission.
"People have asked us, 'What are you waiting on,'" Agee said.
Hovater said he understands the challenges the business owner faces."I hope the people of Nitrate City don't put a stumbling block in front of him and see him close down," Hovater said. "I feel for both sides."
During its previous meeting, the commission voted unanimously to deny a liquor license to the owner of the Spring Valley Market after several ministers and residents voiced their opposition.
Owner Rhonda Salazar said she was also considering appealing the decision to circuit court.
Okay, let’s look at this. It is 2017 not 1917. Alcohol is a mainstay. Restaurants have it. You can buy it at the Dollar General Store now. People are going to drink if they want to. Colbert County is throwing tax money away by now issuing these licenses. This is money that the County seriously needs.How about a comparison? The Lottery is not legal in the State of Alabama. People have shot it down several times when it comes up for a vote. However these same people drive to Tennessee each week to buy Lottery Tickets. This is being Hypocritical. Not only are these people being two faced but they are taking money out of the County as well as the State of Alabama. Lottery Taxes in Tennessee are utilized for Schools as well as road maintenance. Driving up Highway 43 from Killen, you can tell where Alabama roads stop and Tennessee roads start without looking at the signs. Again, a lot of this money is Alabama money.
Now back to the Alcohol Licenses that are being refused by the Colbert County Commission. Let me give you a news flash, people are going to go somewhere else to buy alcohol if they want it. Will these people leave the County to purchase this alcohol? It’s very possible.
The comment is made in the article that the store is close to a Church. I don’t believe you can find a store that sells Alcohol in Colbert County that is not close to a Church of some type. Again, this is the 21st Century not Prohibition Times. People in Churches drink as well play the Lottery. They might go outside this area to do it, but it is done.Come on Colbert County Commission, get with the program. You are about to have to fund a new jail. Use some of the Alcohol Taxes to pay for it.
I am and always will be, the Midnight Rider.
We will offer one comment; the business owner in question was perfectly content to abstain from selling alcohol while raking in money from other sources, presumably patting hisself on the back for his moral fiber. Yet when the going got tough, he quickly decided to change his policy. Moral behavior should be governed by our ideals and principals, not the vagaries of our pocketbook.