The DeKalb County Beer Board Thursday night voted to assess the owners of Maggie's Landing on Highway 70 a civil penalty of $200 for an illegal Sunday beer sale.
Acting on complaints of illegal Sunday sales of beer, the Sheriff’s Department cited an employee of Maggie's Landing on Sunday, April 24 after she sold an alcoholic beverage to someone working undercover.
50 year old Lisa Sowell Dulley of Hurricane Ridge Road, Smithville was issued a citation for unlawful sale of alcoholic beverages. The case remains pending in court.
According to Sheriff Patrick Ray, the undercover operative entered Maggie's Landing Sunday where Dulley allegedly sold him an alcoholic beverage. After making the purchase, he left the business with the beverage.
During Thursday night’s meeting, County Attorney Hilton Conger informed the beer board that it could take action against the establishment, even though the clerk has not yet had her case decided in court.
“What the court does in the case of the person who made the sale has nothing to do with what this board does,” said Conger.
“According to the law, the board has the authority to revoke the license outright; to suspend their license for a period of time; or impose a civil penalty not to exceed $1,000 (for selling beer on Sunday). That’s your options,” Conger told the board.
Conger then asked Charlie Blanchfield of Maggie’s Landing, whether there was any dispute about the allegation.
“Charlie is there any dispute that beer was sold on Sunday”?
“We were unaware that we couldn’t (sell beer on Sunday). We don’t sell to go. We did on the premises. But when it came to this and it was brought to my attention after the officers came in, Maggies has been closed every Sunday since and will be,” said Blanchfield.
Myron Rhody, the newest member of the Beer Board, asked if Maggie's Landing had any violations in the past.
“Has this establishment given any problems in the past. Do we have any kind of record where they have been penalized”?
“No they haven’t” was the answer from other members of the beer board.
“What I’m getting at is if they have not created any problems, I’d hate to throw the book at somebody if they have never created a problem and do the maximum. But I’m sure even they (owners) understand we’re going to have to do something,” said Rhody
“I make a motion to assess a civil penalty of $200 to be paid within seven days”, said board member Jim Stagi.
The motion was adopted by the board.
After the vote, Blanchfield suggested that action be taken to change existing regulations which currently treats businesses in the county that sell alcohol differently than those in the City of Smithville.
“The customers that normally come to Maggie's who want to have a beer with their pizza on Sunday can go to any gas station within the city, to Food Lion, to the Dollar Store or wherever and buy beer on Sunday and they can go to the restaurant across the street from the high school and have a beer with their meal on Sunday but they can’t come to my restaurant because of the beer boards (city and county) being different,” he said.
Blanchfield further said he was under the impression the county beer board has the authority from the state or Alcoholic Beverage Commission to make changes. “The way the state has left it up to every county is that the beer board has the right, without county commissioners approval and without a referendum vote, to make beer sales on Sunday available”
Conger told Blanchfield that the beer board has no such authority but that Sunday beer sales in the county would be allowed under state law should a Smithville referendum pass in November to allow liquor by the drink in city restaurants.
“The ABC (Alcoholic Beverage Commission) has nothing to do with county beer boards. The ABC controls liquor sales. Not beer sales. So your premise is absolutely incorrect. The ABC has nothing to do with the county beer board. The county beer board is regulated by state law and the state law says when you can sell beer. This board can’t change the state law,” said Conger
“If , in the upcoming (November) election, the city votes to have liquor by the drink then the hours of the county establishments conform to the city. Just like in Warren County for example. In McMinnville you can go in Applebee’s and you can get a drink of anything you want on Sunday. On Sunday you can go to Cowboy Up Bar and Grill in Warren County and get a beer. The reason is because the law says once a municipality adopts liquor by the drink, then the establishments in the county, their hours of sale would conform to that (in the city),” Conger concluded
In 2012, the Smithville Aldermen voted 3-2 to allow off premises permit holders in the city to sell packaged beer twenty four hours a day, seven days a week. Eligible restaurants may also apply for an on-premises permit to sell beer with meals in their establishments subject to beer ordinance regulations.
In November 2014, Smithville voters narrowly approved a referendum to allow retail package stores to sell liquor within the city subject to city and ABC regulations.
Two referendums will be on the Smithville ballot in November, including one asking voters if they wish to permit grocery stores in the city to sell wine. The other referendum will ask city voters whether or not to approve the legal sale of alcoholic beverages for consumption on the premises in Smithville (liquor by the drink).