Loganville officials are ready to move forward with considering a package store, or two, in the city.
According to Mayor Ray Nunley, about 10 people have already enquired about bringing the first package store to the city. Should a petition drive be successful, and the voters approve it in November, the city is looking to issue two permits - one in Walton and one in Gwinnett. Grayson recently went through the process and got into some difficulty when one person instituted the petition drive and then three people applied for the one license. Joe Kalish, who initiated and paid for the petition drive, was not the successful applicant. Instead it was awarded to Richard Tucker with Grayson Cellars LLC.
"We don't want to get into that situation," Nunley said. "And I want to make sure we have a completely open process. I want a public hearing where all the applicants can come and make their case. I would then like for a decision to be made on the two permits to be issued if the voters approve it."
Nunley said he has the city attorney looking into whether it would be legal to issue provisional permits in advance, conditional on the petition drive and referendum being successful.
"I would also like to see if the applicants can also pay for the special election, but we will have to find out if that is legal too," Nunley said.
Councilman Mark Kiddoo, who is the chairman of the Finance Committee, said he thought it should be up to the applicants to take the risk involved. He didn't think it was necessary to choose the applicants in advance.
"It is only about a $10,000 investment and a package store is a huge investment - a couple of million dollars in inventory alone," Kiddoo said. "If anyone can't invest $10,000 in business risk, then they don't need to be considering a package store."
Kiddoo said he would suggest that the 10 applicants get together and share the risk of the petition drive. He said they could possibly draw up an agreement and then arrange for reimbursement of the ones who were not successful. If the petition drive wasn't successful, they would each be in it for only about $1,000. However, if it is successful, then the two eventual successful applicants could pick up $5,000 each and refund the balance to the others.
Nunley said it was ultimately up to the voters to decide, but he was in favor opening up the prospect of the two package stores in the city. He said he personally would vote for it if the petition drive is successful. While opponents could voice their objections at the public hearing, city officials are not the deciding factor on whether to call for a referendum - a successful petition drive would be. It would then be up to voters to vote to approve it or not on a referendum at a special election.