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Town of Unicoi’s planners to consider first complete liquor store application

Brad Hicks • Apr 2, 2013 at 9:55 PM

UNICOI — The town of Unicoi’s Planning Commission is set to meet Monday to discuss the first completed application the town has received since its certificate of compliance for retail liquor stores went into effect in February.

Planning Commission Chairman Ken Kisiel said five interested parties have requested package store application packages, and one person has returned a completed application back to the town. Kisiel said Town Recorder Larry Rea has reviewed the submitted material and feels the application is complete, and the planning commission is set to meet with this applicant Monday.

A referendum to permit package stores within the town passed by a majority vote in the Nov. 6 general election. In late January, the town’s Board of Mayor and Aldermen passed the final reading of an ordinance to allow the establishment of retail package stores within the town’s limits.

According to the ordinance, package stores must be located at least 200 feet from locations such as residences, schools, playgrounds, churches, parks and day care centers. The stores must be a minimum of 1,800 square feet, have only one entrance accessible by the public, and sales of alcoholic beverages can only take place during hours provided in state law, according to the town’s ordinance.

Related ordinances passed by the town established three sub-district overlay zones in which retail package stores can be located, with only one store located in each of these zones and a maximum of two stores established within the town’s limits.

Kisiel said the town’s review process begins when the town receives an application certified as complete by the town recorder. From that point, the planning commission has 60 days to evaluate the application, Kisiel said. He said information requested in the application includes a site plan, detail of how the store may impact its surroundings and a business plan. Kisiel said the planning commission will conduct an “in-depth analysis” of the application to ensure the potential store meets the town’s regulations.

“In other words, we have to be convinced that the person can make a go of it, that it’s going to be a successful store to the extent that we can see and that the person is a good person to have in charge of it,” Kisiel said.

If the planning commission determines that an applicant should be allowed to establish a retail liquor store, the panel’s recommendation will be sent on to the Board of Mayor and Aldermen for its approval of the recommendation.

Kisiel said the applicant who submitted the application is interested in establishing a store near Walmart off the Tinker Road Exit.

There is no deadline for the town to receive applications, other than only two stores being permitted within the town’s limits, Kisiel said.

“The only deadline, such as it is, is that you have to be one of the first two to get it approved,” Kisiel said.

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