UNICOI — The two applicants seeking to open retail package stores in the town of Unicoi now have the Unicoi Board of Mayor and Aldermen’s OK to move forward.
At a called meeting Thursday, the board unanimously voted to approve granting both of the applicants with their certificates of compliance. Applications for retail liquor stores were previously submitted to the town by Stacey Collins and Jerry Vance.
Now that Collins and Vance have received their certificates of compliance from the town, each must apply with the Tennessee Alcoholic Beverage Commission to obtain their licenses to operate a retail liquor store within the state. Unicoi Town Recorder Larry Rea said once the applicants have applied with the state, the ABC has 45 days to respond.
On May 13, the town of Unicoi Planning Commission voted to recommend approval of both of the applications. The Board of Mayor and Aldermen was set to consider their approval May 20, but the panel voted to table its consideration, as several aldermen had not had the opportunity to review the applications.
Collins was the first applicant to submit an application to the town, and her application was first discussed at an April meeting of the town’s Planning Commission. She intends to call her store Unicoi Wine and Spirits and locate the store in existing commercial space at 100 Rocky Bottom Drive, across from the Unicoi Walmart.
Although the process is not complete, Collins called Thursday’s approval of her certificate of compliance a “relief.”
“Really, the work begins now because we will be sending in our stuff probably Monday to the state, and then they have up to 45 days,” said Collins’ brother, David Edwards, who will serve as the store’s manager.
Edwards said some renovation and preparation work needs to be completed before the store can open.
“Our goal was to be open before the Fourth of July, but I doubt that that will happen,” Edwards said. “So sometime in July, we’ll be open.”
Vance submitted his application to the town in late April and intends to construct a store on property adjacent to the Maple Grove Restaurant, which he also owns. He intends to call the store Maple Grove Wines and Liquor, and Vance said Thursday that he hopes to have the store open by November.
“Mr. Vance is gratified to get it done,” said attorney Stephen Fox, who assisted Vance in completing the certificate of compliance application. “He’s just glad to get it behind him and ready to go forward with the ABC.”
A referendum to allow package stores within the town’s limits passed by a majority vote in the November election. The Board of Mayor and Aldermen approved the final reading of an ordinance to permit the establishment of package stores within the town’s limits in January. In February, the town began allowing those interested in opening retail liquor stores to pick up certificate of compliance applications.
Per the town’s ordinance, a maximum of two liquor stores can be located within Unicoi’s limits. If the state grants licenses to Collins and Vance, this maximum will be met.
Rea said both Collins and Vance would also need to acquire building permits from the town before opening their stores.
“Of course, you have proposed in your business plans to have a store in operation in a certain length of time, and we hope that works out for both of you,” Rea said to Collins and Vance.