Start date for alcohol sales still unclear

Published 6:39 pm Friday, April 8, 2016

When alcohol will be available for sale in Chilton County remains unclear.

Voters approved in the March Primary Election for the county to go “wet,” allowing alcohol sales county-wide, but questions remained about how exactly the process would work.

Many of those questions were answered Friday during a meeting between county officials and Alabama Beverage Control Board representatives.

Maplesville’s mayor, police chief and several town council members also attended the meeting, as the municipality is the only one in the county that will begin alcohol sales. Clanton, Jemison and Thorsby were already wet.

Uncertainties remain, including how soon businesses would be able to secure licenses.

Members of the Chilton County Commission present at the meeting indicated that local businesses would like to be able to sell alcohol during the weekend of July Fourth.

The act allowing sales in Chilton County does not take effect until July 1, a Friday, so unless a license was granted that day, it would be granted after the holiday.

ABC representatives at the meeting said business owners could begin the process of obtaining a license after May 1. They should first contact ABC and begin compiling necessary documents and information.

In an ideal scenario, a local business owner could have everything needed except approval from the county prior to July 1. Then on that day, the county’s approval could be given at a special called meeting at 8 a.m.

The business owner would take the county’s approval to the ABC Board in Montgomery and perhaps receive a license that day.

But ABC officials warned there would be no guarantee of the situation playing out as planned, saying there could be unforeseen problems with the application—and even in the absence of such problems, it would be unknown how long it would take to process the application.

Also, establishments such as restaurants that plan to sell alcoholic beverages for consumption on the premises would be required to submit to a site inspection before a license is granted, further extending the amount of time needed.

In an effort to expedite the process, commissioners discussed the possibility of having public hearings for any early applicants earlier in the week of June 27, so that the July 1 meeting would be a formality, and the county’s approval could be given as soon as possible.

A letter of approval from a local governing body is one of the items ABC requires before issuing a license.

The Commission expects to consider a resolution about alcohol sales at its meeting Monday.

County attorney John Hollis Jackson asked ABC to review the resolution prior to its passage, and ABC attorney Bob Martin pointed out a couple of items that could be changed, including a provision that would make mandatory training that is intended to be voluntary.

“I think you are taking the correct first step in the sense that you have a resolution that you are considering adopting,” Martin said.

Martin said Maplesville’s Town Council would also need to pass a resolution detailing handling of alcohol sales tax revenue prior to sales beginning.