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Liquor license blocked

Photo by J.D. Sumner

Photo by J.D. Sumner

ALBANY, Ga. -- The Albany City Commission Tuesday voted 5-2 to deny a license to sell packaged alcohol to a businessman seeking to put his store near Albany State University and church property.

The vote came hours after an alcohol license denial hearing was held in the commission chambers Tuesday morning.

In offering the motion for consideration, Ward 2 Commissioner Dorothy Hubbard said that she believes sufficient evidence was presented during the hearing to support the city's contention that allowing Rowe to build his store at 301 East Oglethorpe Boulevard would adversely impact ASU, Shiloh Baptist Church and nearby property belonging to Greater Second Mt. Olive Baptist Church.

"It's clear that despite the fact that it (the application) meets our criteria, it would have an adverse impact on the adjacent community," Hubbard said. "My comments are not based on emotion, they are based on evidence presented at both the October meeting and the hearing today."

Seconded by commissioner Tommie Postell, Albany Mayor Willie Adams was the only elected official to comment before the vote, explaining why he was changing his previous vote on the matter last month.

"Originally I voted in favor because I understood that the owner had gone through all of the hoops and I thought it blatantly unfair not to allow it, but my underlying concern has always been to not put the city at financial risk with a lawsuit," Adams said.

"I feel satisfied after talking to our attorney that we have a good chance of winning ... my opinion has changed," Adams finished.

For the final vote, all but Mayor Pro Tem Christopher Pike and Ward 5 Commissioner Bob Langstaff voted to deny the license. Hubbard, Postell, Adams and Commissioners Jon Howard and Roger Marietta voted to deny.

The vote to deny comes just two weeks after the commission voted to renew all alcohol licenses within the city of Albany -- including Rowe's license to sell liquor at his store on South Slappey Boulevard and the three liquor-by-the-drink establishments within a half mile of 301 E. Oglethorpe Blvd.

Christopher Cohilas, Rowe's attorney, said after the vote that he would have to consult with Rowe before a decision will be made on whether to file suit against the city.