With two more applications approved at Tuesday’s meeting, Statesboro City Council has now granted location reservations for six liquor stores but at this point has denied six others that met the legal requirements except for being too close to one or more other proposed liquor stores.
All applications, both those approved and those denied, have been for renovations of existing buildings.
At the previous meeting on April 19, the council approved four store sites but in effect denied the application of Two Guys Beverage, an established beer and wine package shop at Suite 410 in College Plaza, 520 Fair Road, to add distilled spirits and expand into a neighboring space.
Within the city ordinance’s 1,000-yard minimum distance from that location, other developers proposed to renovate the former Midtown Bar & Grill building at 12 Brannen St. as a liquor store called Blue Mile Wine & Spirits, and when council members asked City Manager Charles W. Penny to recommend one of the two, he recommended Blue Mile for its proposed transformation of a long vacant building and the resulting revenue it would generate for the South Main Tax Allocation District.
Recommends denying both
The situation became more complicated Tuesday morning after Penny made a different sort of recommendation for another location where two proposed liquor store locations were within 1,000 yards of each other on Northside Drive East. He recommended denying both and giving each applicant 30 days to propose an alternative site with no further application fee.
Both locations were viable for a package store and both applicants had met the legal requirements, he noted. But Penny said he was basing his recommendation “upon the additional factors of general impact of the location on the surrounding areas, limited parking availability” and “insufficient space to accommodate delivery vehicles” based on the current configuration of the properties. He also noted that Northside Drive has a traffic count of 17,100 vehicles per day.
“I recommend the liquor license not be awarded for either location,” Penny said. “There are sufficient other properties in the general area with vacant spaces and adequate parking for customers and delivery of products. Should the City Council choose to support this recommendation, I recommend the applicants be allowed to identify another location without submission of another application fee.”
City Council unanimously adopted that recommendation but extended the time allowed to propose alternative sites to 60 days.
The two denied sites on Northside were a Patriot Liquors store, proposed by Downside Investment Group for the current Pestmaster Services building, 834 Northside Drive East, and Whiskey Warehouse, proposed for 647 Northside Drive East, the former Greener Cleaners at Jet Drive, by owner Raymond Driggers.
The South Main 3
When a conflicting set of three proposed sites on South Main Street — which were not only less than the city’s 1,000-yard minimum distance from one another but less than the 500 yards required in state law — came up for consideration, Penny recommended one of them. But a majority of council members ignored that recommendation — with some expressing preferences for the other two stores — and instead fitted Penny’s Northside Drive advice to the South Main situation as well, rejecting all three of the applications there and again giving the applicants 60 days to find alternative sites.
The three denied sites on South Main were a store to be named “815 S. Main” at that address, proposed by local developers Robbie Bell and Nick Propps; The County Line Too, proposed by owners of the long-established County Line Package Shop in Candler County, including Bulloch County residents Pam and Landrum Hodges, 814 South Main St.; and “House of Booze,” proposed by Statesboro business owner and developer Timothy Allen “Bubba” Hunt for 801 South Main.
Penny’s recommendation was for Hunt’s proposal, but on the condition that he rename his store, which like the others would have been near the Georgia Southern University campus and some privately owned student apartments, something other than “House of Booze.” Hunt said he was willing and indicated that this had been a temporary name he gave when he needed one for his application.
Penny’s main reason for recommending Hunt’s location was that 801 S. Main, the former Party Impressions building, is at an intersection with a traffic signal, the one at Rucker Lane, which could help alleviate traffic concerns.
But again, the council did not take up that recommendation, and denied all three applications. The vote denying the Northside Drive applications was 5-0. But the vote denying the South Main applications was 4-1, with Councilman Phil Boyum opposed.
The 2 approved
The two applications approved Tuesday were for “Whiskey Business” at 1410 Northside Drive East, owner-applicants Jeffrey Lee Dawson and Julie Dawson, and EZ Liquors at 1525 Fair Road Suite 106, owned by Shree Dhan Laxmi LLC, manager Vishakha Patel.
Two local attorneys, Chris Gohagan, a partner at the Taulbee, Rushing, Snipes, Marsh & Hodgin firm; and Andrew Lavoie, a partner at Bruce, Mathews & Lavoie, each spoke on behalf of more than one of Tuesday’s applicants. The same two attorneys had spoken for some of the April 19 applicants at well.
One surprising aspect of Tuesday’s meeting was a suggestion by the 815 South Main developers that they would seek to contract with Two Guys Beverage for, in Gohagan’s words, “design, training, staffing, kind of operational elements,” of the 815 S. Main store. Two Guys’ store manager and assistant manager then spoke for the 815 South Main application.
Another surprise was the fact that Candler County Sheriff John Miles came to Statesboro City Council to speak in support of the Hodges’ application for The County Line Too.
“I’ve never had any issues with The County Line,” and “Landrum and his staff have always been accessible when needed and made their store a safe place for their customers,” were two quotes from Miles that Lavoie included in a slide presentation before the sheriff spoke and said much the same thing.
This story will be revised for Thursday’s print edition with more about the council’s reasons.