Despite protests lodged by church members, the City Council Tuesday unanimously approved a resolution granting a conditional use permit that would allow the sale of beer and wine at a variety store.
The store still needs approval from the state Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control for a liquor license before it can sell alcohol.
The Rev. Jose Fernandez, pastor of the United Methodist Church on Randolph Street, said he filed a protest with the state agency to oppose a liquor license to Grand Central Liquor Inc., based in Los Angeles, which operates 99 Only Stores in 11 locations. The company has proposed opening a variety store--to sell such items as housewares, stationery and health and beauty aids--at 6161 Atlantic Blvd.
Fernandez said church members also had protested the city conditional use permit because liquor sales at the store would interfere with regular church activities, would increase litter and would be close to the site of a proposed elementary school.
“We are concerned about the children. We have enough trouble in the area without adding to it,” Fernandez said.
3 Churches and a Church School
A city staff study found that within 1,000 feet of the proposed store there are three churches and a church school in addition to a bar and two stores that sell alcohol.
But council members indicated that their consideration was a financial one: the 10,000-square-foot building where the 99 Only Store will be has been vacant for four years.
“It’s not good for any city to have empty buildings,” said Councilwoman Betty Lou Rogers, noting that the building formerly housed a Thrifty drug store. “Any building that is occupied will bring in revenues.”
Moreover, Rogers said, the store will sell beer and wine at room temperature, not refrigerated, so patrons would not be drinking it near the premises.
“Thrifty’s was there for 20 some odd years. And they sold it cold,” Rogers said. “Why didn’t they (protest) when Thrifty’s was there?”
Ken Byers, senior counsel with the ABC said an investigation is pending and it is not known when it will be completed. Byers said that since a formal protest has been filed, the department must schedule a hearing before acting on the license.