Commissioners Seek Public Comment On Two Liquor Permits

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Athens County Commissioners are seeking public comment on two requests for a liquor permit, one for Kiser’s Barbeque at Eclipse in The Plains and the other for Elm Golf Course near Albany.

Although they’ve already requested a public hearing for Kiser’s permit from the state Department of Commerce Division of Liquor Control, the commissioners voted Monday to rescind the request on Jan. 7 if no objections are received by Jan. 6.

Rescinding the request for a public hearing would mean the Division of Liquor Control could move forward with issuing the permit, explained Matt Mullins, a spokesman for the agency.

Back in November, the voting precinct for Eclipse Company Store, The Plains 1 Precinct, approved the business’ request for a permit. One allowing the sale of beer, wine, mixed beverages and liquor was approved 139-58. The other local option allows Sunday sales, between 11 a.m. and midnight, of wine, mixed beverages and liquor and was approved 125-72.

Still, Commissioner Charlie Adkins said it was important to him to schedule a public hearing. He added the county hasn’t received objections to date.

“These are big issues for people, and they (the public) have a right to know what we’re doing ahead of time,” Adkins said.

The entities with the power to object to the issuance of a permit include a church or school, if it’s within 500 feet away. A legislative authority (in this case, the commissioners) also have that authority. Any resident who objects would have to join the case of either the legislative body, church or school, Mullins explained.

If enough evidence is presented during the hearing, the Division of Liquor Control could deny the permit. That decision can also be appealed.

Sean Kiser, owner of Kiser’s Barbeque, said he’s frustrated with the commissioners’ decision, saying their objection only delays what voters already approved.

“By delaying us, they’re delaying us making revenue,” Kiser said. “This is stopping me from hiring people. Economically, this is putting us in a bad position.”

According to Kiser, should the request for a public hearing proceed, the soonest the Division of Liquor Control could schedule it is February.

“I feel terrible,” Adkins said. “It shouldn’t take that long for the state to issue a permit. This is just me trying to give the public the right to voice their opinion.”

The other request, for Elm Golf Course near Albany, involves a liquor permit that has been in safekeeping, which means the establishment owns the permit but is not using it. Commissioners said Monday they will seek public comment until Jan. 14.

The golf course owner, Joe Limoli, could not be reached for comment.