The DeKalb County Beer Board has again delayed a hearing on the revocation of the off premises permit of Nicoles Market at 7024 Short Mountain Highway.
The board met Thursday night at the courthouse to take up the issue but decided to wait until the next meeting in October after questions were raised concerning another store in the area with a beer permit, One-Stop Market, at 3794 Short Mountain Highway.
In November 2008, the beer board granted an off premises permit to Areceli Soto Godinez, the owner of Nicole's Market, apparently not knowing the store is less than 2,000 feet from the Mount Pisgah Free Will Baptist Church, a violation of the county's distance regulations
DeKalb County has a rule forbidding the sale, storage and manufacture of beer and like beverages within 2,000 feet (or some lesser distance) of schools, churches, and other places of public gathering.
Frank Buck, attorney for the owners of Nicole's Market, told the beer board Thursday night that One-Stop Market may also be within 2,000 feet of a church, the New Home Baptist Church, which would also be a violation of the county's distance requirement "I know a speedometer is not a very good way to be measuring but I went out there and it is without question, very, very close. It's either within 2,000 feet or just outside (2,000 feet). It's between three and four tenths of a mile. The case law very clearly says it's building to building. You've got to measure from the nearest corner of the (store) building to the nearest corner of the building of the church. You must have a uniform method of measuring. And if that thing (One Stop Market) is within the 2,000 feet then my view is that you all have got a very serious problem with revoking this man's license (Nicole's Market)."
Buck also wants to see the resolution where the county commission has ever established the 2,000 foot distance requirement. Both he and Sarah Cripps say they have researched years of county records and cannot locate any such resolution. Cripps is the attorney for the owners of D& D Market of 7166 Short Mountain Highway, who were denied a beer permit in July because that store is also within 2,000 feet of the Mount Pisgah Free Will Baptist Church.
County Attorney Hilton Conger says the beer board has been relying on the 2,000 foot distance requirement for many years. "When the beer laws were first enacted, the county commission actually served as the beer board and then they formed an independent beer board and Chairman (Mack) Harney was on that original beer board and has served on it ever since."
As for any stores in violation of the distance requirement, Conger still insists that the beer board has the right to revoke their permits if they were inadvertently granted in error. "I believe the law is clear that we can revoke any permit that is within the prohibited area. We want to get it right."
However Buck suggested that if the beer board has granted more than one permit in error, that might not be considered inadvertent.
Conger advised the beer board to postpone the hearing until October 1st . In the meantime, a survey will be conducted to determine the exact distance between One-Stop Market and the New Home Baptist Church, and more research will be done in hopes of locating a county commission resolution establishing the distance requirement.