Residents Protest 'Alcohol Expo'
Teachers and pastors showed up to the public hearing for Hickory Liquor and Wine on Monday.
A liquor license hearing got heated Monday night when a Sequoyah teacher and Baptist pastor spoke against granting a alcohol license for another package store on Hickory Flat Highway.
The store in question, Hickory Liquor &Wine would be at 6115 Hickory Flat Highway and occupy suites 104 through 110—more than 7,000 square feet of business.
Mark Farist, a Sequoyah High School health teacher, prepared a presentation in an attempt to convince council members to deny the license at the safety of the teenagers who frequent that location at night because of the Wendys and Taco Bell nearby.
“I asked myself, ‘Is this a quaint cute bottle shop of spirits?’” Farist said. “No, it’s 7,000 square feet of alcohol.”
Farist also argued that the “Alcohol Expo,” as he called it, mislead the council by only listing one store front on their alcohol permit application, leading council members to believe that the store would be substantially smaller.
Another speaker, Doug Mulkey, senior pastor of Mt. Zion Baptist Church, said he did not approve of the store on moral and ethical grounds.
“My appeal to you tonight is on the grounds of common decency and not on the legality,” Mulkey said. “You are making decisions that are going to effect our lives.”
The store’s future owner, Mitesh Bhatt, defended the business by saying that if teenagers wanted to find alcohol, they could at the nearby locations that serve it.
Bhatt also runs a liquor store in Buckhead and said he is a good businessman and American citizen.
“According to me it’s foolish, it’s rubbish because if the kids want to do it they will do it,” Bhatt said.
Council woman Karen Barnett asked Bhatt what would separate his store from the other liquor stores in the area—particularly Uncle Jack’s that is less that two miles away.
“It comes with the square foot,” Bhatt said. “It comes with the knowledge. It comes with what you desire. I pour my heart in it. I make it more beautiful.”
Two more residents spoke against allowing the package store to open while representatives from the company who owned the property spoke for allowing it to open.
After a threat of litigation from Farist, the council went into an executive session. During that session, Farist asked the owner of the commercial property owner how close he personally lived to a liquor store. He answered that he lived in Atlanta and could see one from his front door.
The council tabled the decision until the Nov. 21 regular meeting so they could check the distances between the location and several local schools and daycares.