Town of Unicoi planners seek more info from liquor store applicant

Brad Hicks • Apr 9, 2013 at 9:08 AM

UNICOI — The town of Unicoi’s Planning Commission needs a little more information before it lends its approval to the first package store application the town has received since the establishment of retail liquor stores became permitted within the town’s limits.

At its meeting Monday, the commission voted to table consideration of a retail liquor store application submitted by potential owner Stacey Collins. Collins’ application lacked several items required as part of town ordinance, including a background check on the store’s manager, letters of reference and more details on the proposed store’s business plan.

“It’s not their fault,” Unicoi Vice Mayor and Planning Commission member Doug Hopson said. “A lot of it is our growing pains and that type of thing.”

Collins’ application was the first the town has received since a referendum passed in the November general election allowing package stores within the town’s limits. In January, the Unicoi Board of Mayor and Aldermen approved the final reading of an ordinance to allow the establishment of retail package stores within the town’s limits.

Collins is wanting to open her store, which she intends to call Unicoi Wine and Spirits, at 100 Rocky Bottom Drive, which is located within the business strip in front of the Unicoi Walmart. Collins’ application meets a number of regulations outlined in the town’s ordinance, as it will be located at least 200 feet from locations such as schools, residences, churches and parks, will have only one entrance accessible by the public and is at least 1,800 square feet.

After the town recorder reviews a submitted application, it is put before the town’s planning commission for its consideration. If the planning commission recommends approval of the application, it is put before the board of mayor and aldermen for its consideration. Collins’ brother, David Edwards, whom she said would serve as the store’s manager and oversee day-to-day operations, said once the town’s process is complete, the state has 45 days to issue the go-ahead to open. From there, he said it would take about five business days to get the store set up, and that he and Collins intend to open the store at that time.

Edwards said based on 50 customers spending $25 each per day, the store would realize profits of around $7,800 per month, adding that he and Collins anticipate 40 percent of sales would come from wine. He said this would be realized after paying two full-time and two part-time employees. However, several members of the planning commission voiced concern about financial information submitted in the application.

“As I recall, you give an estimated sales per year but I don’t recall an estimated cost of running the store or your employees, that kind of thing, and whether you think it will be making money from beginning or how long it will not be making money,” Planning Commission Chairman Ken Kisiel said.

Both Collins and Edwards said they could have the necessary information by early next week. The planning commission intends to hold a special called meeting as soon as possible, later this month, to again consider Collins’ application once the town receives the requested information.

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