City leaders to decide fate of proposed liquor store - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

City leaders to decide fate of proposed liquor store

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By Cade Fowler - bio | email

ALBANY, GA (WALB) – Albany city leaders will decide Tuesday whether or not a local businessman can build a liquor store on the city's eastside.

The proposed location for the establishment along Oglethorpe Boulevard is at issue even though city officials say APH Enterprises's plan to demolish a vacant restaurant meets all legal requirements.

Opponents say it's too close to Albany State University and will cause problems in the community. Supporters say it will bring jobs and actually cut down on crime.

Local church leaders opposed to the liquor store gathered at the Government Center Monday night. They argue a package store will entice ASU students by providing easy access to alcohol and hurt the community by contributing to alcoholism.

"You've got an already frustrated community who can't find jobs, and then you mix that with  liquor and a package store, you're going to have a deadly concoction..not to include also, young people at Albany State University," said Rev. Lorenzo Heard.

Chris Cohilas, attorney for businessman Alex Rowe, says the liquor store will replace a blighted piece of property that has attracted criminal activity, including a recent shooting in the parking lot that left a man hospitalized. He says a new business would essentially strengthen the community.

"This particular establishment will remove crime. It is in an area that is currently where criminals are making use of a dilapidated building, a dilapidated parking lot. No one else is willing to come in and knock this structure down and invest money into this particular property and put jobs there," said Cohilas.

Cohilas pointed out that two establishments, Big Daddy's Night Club and L'Jua's, are located within walking distance of ASU and both serve alcohol.

Church leaders say they will fight the issue even if commissioners grant Rowe a license.

The denial hearing will take place Tuesday at 9 a.m.

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