Albany leaders issue moratorium on new liquor licenses

Albany commission puts indefinite stop on new liquor licenses
Published: Jan. 25, 2023 at 6:42 PM EST
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ALBANY, Ga. (WALB) - Albany City Commissioners voted for a temporary moratorium on any new alcohol licenses for a 45-day period.

There are six Family Dollar stores in Albany that have applied for a new liquor license and have all been denied. Right now, the applications have been placed on a temporary 45-day hold and will not be reconsidered until March 10.

Commissioners said they need more time to consider some of the alcohol licensing policy changes they wish to make before voting on the pending licenses.

There was some debate back and forth regarding the current business owners that have applied.

“The alcohol license is outstanding, and we are going to vote on it tonight. Is it going to be retroactive or is it going to start tonight? How do we deal with that because my people need to know what to communicate,” Steven Carter, Albany city manager, said.

“If the moratorium passes then the moratorium will be in effect and the licenses will not be issued until the moratorium has run out,” said Nathan Davis, City of Albany attorney.

The moratorium went on to pass in a 4-3 vote.

“I was opposed to the moratorium. I would say that I am completely open to our policy or changes or whatever. I just don’t think we should have done that in a moratorium setting because that puts a negative impact on the businesses,” said Chad Warbington, Ward 4 city commissioner.

Albany Commission: No new liquor licenses till at least March

There are several factors as to why a business can be denied liquor license. It’s a process that can take weeks to get approved.

“I tell individuals or businesses that are denied is to try and understand why it’s denied. Maybe it was location, appearance, too close to a residential area. There are several factors that as a commission we have the ability to consider to use whether we accept or deny a license,” Warbington said.

Out of the 12 qualifications that are required to obtain a license, the main things that stick out are making sure you are a resident in the county, the location of the business, and if it’s in violation of state laws.

The recent alcohol license applications in the city have mostly been for dollar stores.

“Dollar stores are retail establishments that haven’t traditionally sold alcoholic beverages here in Albany and Dougherty County. We have, I believe, over 23 dollar stores in the City of Albany. That is Dollar General, Family Dollar, Dollar Tree. What we are about to see is a proliferation of the number of retail establishments with alcohol licenses,” Bo Dorough, Albany mayor, said.

Dorough said there is a possible solution to this.

“We need to see if other cities have ordinances that will address the concerns of the commissioners who are against issuing of these licenses. We need to see if there is a better procedure. One point that could be made is that the City of Albany actually has ordinances that are more stringent than state laws,” said Dorough.

If a business has been denied a license, it’ll have to wait one year before applying again.