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County faces lawsuit over alcohol license decision

A Thomson woman has filed suit against McDuffie County in response to a decision made several weeks ago by the Board of Commissioners to uphold the alcoholic beverage license of Wall to Wall Package Store on Washington Road.

Leona Felix, manager of Washington Road Package Store, accused Wall to Wall owner Keith Wall of not posting a sign announcing his application for a liquor license for the required 30 days. After commissioners decided to uphold the license because there wasn't enough evidence to support a revocation, Mrs. Felix sued both Mr. Wall and McDuffie County.

"We're suing the county because they did not comply with their own ordinance," said Ms. Felix's attorney Jack Long. "It requires a 30-day notice in front of that building before Mr. Wall could get a liquor license. ...We also had to sue the county because we didn't feel like they treated both parties equally."

Mr. Wall currently owns the building in which Ms. Felix operates Washington Road Package Store. At the end of this year, her lease on the building expires. Mr. Wall intends to rename the building as Wall to Wall and operate it himself. Ms. Felix wanted to move her business to a close by property and keep the Washington Road Package Store name.

Unfortunately, a state law prevents two liquor stores from being separated by 500 yards or less.

However, McDuffie County Attorney Sammy Fowler said he thinks the case will get resolved before it goes to court thanks to a different interpretation of the state ordinance.

"We're trying to resolve it, and I think it's going to get resolved," he said. "Neither one would be in any kind of fight with each other if each one of them had an alcoholic beverage store near each other. They'd just be competitors, and we think there's a way to accomplish it."

Mr. Fowler added that the state has already given them preliminary approval to have the two stores operate next to each other, primarily because there's been an alcoholic beverage store at the sight of Wall to Wall for 17 years. The state ordinance in question is only a few years old, which means that Wall to Wall's license can be grandfathered in, even if the name of the store has changed.

Mr. Long agreed that both Ms. Felix and Mr. Wall didn't see anything wrong with having both of their stores next to one another.

"I think Ms. Felix and Mr. Wall are willing to compete against each other on Washington Road," he said. "I hope we can get this case resolved so all parties can go on with their lives."



Web posted on Wednesday, December 17, 2003











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