Clearly, the ABC has decided that the days of protecting Fayetteville liquor stores is over. It approved more convenience store beer permits yesterday. But I was interested in the discussion that led to the board's denial of one permit, on account of a high crime rate in the neighborhood.
Bad neighborhoods can't have alcoholic beverage permits? Or even exist?
[Lawyer Charles] Singleton said only 39 permits have been issued in Washington County for beer sales for off-premises consumption, and 33 of them belong to liquor stores. In comparison, 353 beer permits have been issued in Pulaski County, 245 of them to convenience and grocery stores, he said.
“It’s not the role of the state to limit competition,” Singleton said. “I think that’s clearly the situation in that county.”
Board member J.J. Vigneualt made the motion to uphold the director’s denial of the permit, saying crime in the area was a concern.
“They ought to take a bulldozer and bulldoze about the whole neighborhood down there, it looks like,” he said.
E-Z Mart CEO Sonja Hubbard said after the hearing she did not immediately know whether the company would appeal the board’s decision.
Hubbard said she believed the officers did not paint a true picture of the store and the neighborhood.
“If you look at the statistics from our store, it doesn’t indicate it,” she said. “I have been in that area recently myself, and I think there are probably some citizens who live in that area who probably would be offended to see it portrayed as such a crime-riddled neighborhood.”