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Sandwich City Council to consider amending ordinance to allow gas stations to sell hard liquor

The Sandwich City Council has agreed to consider amending the city’s liquor control ordinance to allow gas stations to sell hard liquor.

During an April 18 meeting, council members instructed the city attorney to draft an ordinance amendment that will increase the number of Class B liquor licenses from three to eight.

Retailers in the city holding Class B liquor licenses are permitted to sell beer, wine and hard liquor. Currently, Class B licenses are held by Jay’s Liquor, Art’s Supermarket and Bacaba.

The council review of its liquor control ordinance was prompted by a request for a Class B license from Viran Nayi, co-owner of the Shell gas station at 110 N. Main Street.

The city previously issued a Class C license to Nayi which allows for the sale of packaged beer and wine only from his gas station.

Nayi said he and his business partner came before the council after many customers suggested his store should sell hard liquor, so they wouldn’t have to cross the railroad tracks. He suggested it would make his station a one-stop shop and better serve the community.

“Your station is the only gas station I go to in town,” said Alderman Rich Robinson. “I wish I could just say ‘Yes’ and give you one right now, but it’s up to the council to decide to increase the number of Class B licenses.”

Robinson noted that in addition to the three Class B licenses currently issued, all eight of the City’s class A licensed businesses, bars and restaurants, are currently permitted to sell packaged liquor that customers can order to-go.

Alderman Rebecca Johnson initially raised concerns that if they grant one for the Shell station, every gas station in town will want one.

“I love you guys, personally,” Johnson said, “But I don’t know.”

Robinson said that many of the gas stations already reach out every year asking for a Class B liquor license, which City Clerk Denise Li confirmed.

“Then my question to the council is: If a business owner wants to spend $1000 in stead of $500, what’s the hold-up?” Johnson asked.

Holcomb said he agreed with Johnson whole-heartedly. “Cassandra couldn’t have said it any better.”

Alderman Fred Kreinbrink said historically, Sandwich officials have tried to keep a separation between liquor stores and gas stations, but he is open to change.

“I’m all about diversifying and trying different options,” said Kreinbrink, “It might even make prices better, because there’s more competition.”

Alderman questioned how many additional Class B licenses should be made available or if they should be unlimited.

City Attorney Casandra Gottschalk suggested, if they know how many other businesses in town will want one, they make that number available, adding that an unlimited number seemed risky.

The board eventually agreed to move forward with drafting an amendment allowing five additional Class B liquor licenses to be brought back to next week’s meeting.

Source: The Daily Chronicle

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