Jewel's Market & Pizza will not be allowed to sell beer.
On a vote of 5 to 2, the DeKalb County Beer Board Thursday night voted to deny the application of Viva Gail Johnson for an on and off premises permit to sell beer at Jewel's Market & Pizza at 600 North Congress Boulevard because the store is within 2,000 feet of the new First Assembly of God Church
Board members Frank Thomas, Harrell Tolbert, Robert Rowe, Jim Stagi, and Mac Harney all voted to deny the application. Bazel Dick Knowles and Edward Frazier voted to grant the permit.
Frazier said he felt it was discriminatory not to grant the permit, when the store had been licensed to sell beer in the past under a previous owner.
County Attorney Hilton Conger, who was asked to render a legal opinion, said the problem in this situation is that a survey shows the store within two thousand feet of the church, and under regulations established by the county commission in October 1939, no business can be licensed to sell beer if it is within 2,000 feet of a school, church, or other place of public gathering. "That's been the rule here in the county ever since (1939). Counties can change that and make it less than 2,000 feet but DeKalb County has never chosen to do that," said Conger.
As for how the distance is to be measured, Conger said the state supreme court ruled more than fifty years ago in a Sullivan County case that the distance is to be measured in a direct line from building to building or "as the crow flies" "That was settled by the supreme court in the case of Jones versus the Sullivan County Beer Board. That was decided in 1956. The court said that the measurement is to be made in a direct line, the nearest point to the nearest point. From the building to the building. I've seen a survey in this one (Jewel's Market & Pizza). In fact I think Mr. Redmon showed me the survey and its within 2,000 feet," said Conger.
The store, formerly known as Pop's Market, had been licensed to sell beer under a previous owner, but the store later went out of business. The church was built during the time that the store was out of business. According to Conger, after the store had been out of operation for more than six months, it could no longer be grandfathered to sell beer with a new owner. " The exception provided is that if the previous permit holder at the location had not been out of business for more than six months, a church is built or moves in (within 2,000 feet), and someone then purchases the business, it would be grandfathered in. But it is my understanding that (in this case) it had been at least two years since there had been a permit there. At any rate, it had been more than six months," said Conger.
Jewel Redmon, who now owns the store, asked the beer board to take into consideration the fact that because the property was tied up in bankruptcy proceedings, neither he nor anyone else could have purchased the store within the time period that it could have been grandfathered. Redmon said he should not be penalized because of circumstances over which he had no control.
Conger said the law does not make exceptions for such circumstances."The question that Mr. Redmon had raised was would there be an exception under the circumstances for this one since the property had been tied up in bankruptcy for a period of time. I don't think there is an exception for that in the statutes. It just says that if there hasn't been a permit holder there within the last six months, then they're not grandfathered in, "said Conger.
When asked to respond, Redmon said "the property was seized by the government for taxes. Nobody could have gotten a beer license there. There should be exceptions under the circumstances. It should be exempt. There's nobody here objecting. She (Johnson) has to have a product to sell that's what people want. So I think the board should take under consideration that it was seized by the government for taxes. No one could have done business there. That's our opinion," said Redmon.