Ward makes case for liquor store

Published 4:34pm Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Monday’s meeting of the Atmore City Council had a courtroom feel at times, as an Atmore businessman made his case for why he should be allowed to open a package liquor store in downtown Atmore.

Jason Ward has sought to open a liquor store on Trammell Street, and twice the Atmore City Council has denied his request. The first denial was due to an incomplete application, while the second denial was made because the city is under a moratorium on package stores, adult bookstores and tattoo parlors in Atmore. The moratorium was deemed necessary, as the city is investigating the possibility of labeling downtown Atmore as a historic district.

Ward attended Monday’s city council meeting along with Bay Minette attorney Harold Koons III, and a court reporter that transcribed Koons and Ward’s conversation.

After receiving permission from the city council to speak in a conversational manner, Koons began to ask Ward several questions about Ward’s desire to open the package store at 108 Trammell St.

“Have you been approved by the [Alabama Beverage Control] Board for this business,” Koons asked Ward.

“Yes sir, I have,” Ward responded.

“And you’re requesting the city council now to put the final touches on this,” Koons said.

“Yes sir,” Ward said.

“In the city ordinance dealing with this, is your building in violation of the city ordinance that’s in place regarding the location of a package store,” Koons asked.

“No, it’s not in violation, sir, at all,” Ward responded.

Ward then said that the front of his Trammell Street building is more than 300 feet from the nearest church or school, which is the only stipulation against businesses that serve alcohol.

Ward noted that there have been liquor stores in downtown Atmore before, and also pointed to the existence of a bar that serves alcohol, at the Alabama Wing House restaurant.

“So the moratorium was in place, and the Wing House had been approved for that location,” Koons said. “So you see any reason then, why your application should be denied?”

“I don’t see any reason why my application should be denied,” Ward responded.

Ward also said that most of his business neighbors have signed a petition in support of his request, and 67 other Atmore citizens have also signed that petition. He noted that he has ample parking for customers, and that no drinking would be allowed on the premises of the proposed package store.

Atmore Mayor Jim Staff explained to Ward that the Alabama Wing House’s alcohol license was accepted because it was a transfer from the restaurant’s original location on Lindberg Avenue.

“And it’s only because [the owner] has a sit-down restaurant,” Staff said.

“I didn’t know it was a requirement in the state of Alabama to have a liquor store that you had to own a sit-down restaurant,” Ward said.

Staff also said “we can’t do anything with it, because of the moratorium.”

“The moratorium can be rescinded,” Ward said.

“It’s not going to be rescinded,” Staff responded.

In other business:

• The council approved Ordinance 01-2014, which establishes safety procedures for the Atmore Municipal Airport. Staff said this ordinance is a renewal of the procedures that had previously been in place.

• Pee Wee Powell publicly thanked the citizens for his Citizen of the Year award.

“I want to thank every citizen that was there, who congratulated me, and everyone who wrote a letter [nominating me],” he said.

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