The Rev. Bobby Wood, a member of Pine Grove Baptist Church who is currently serving as its interim pastor, said church members are asking commissioners not to approve the waiver for a wine and beer package license for the Walmart located on Barrett Parkway near the East-West Connector.
“They knew back when they built the store there, six years ago I think when the store was built, and they were aware of it at that time, and they tried to get the church to sign a waiver giving them permission,” Wood said. “The church didn’t sign a waiver, and now they’re coming back and trying to get the county to give them permission to sell the beer and wine.”
The county’s business license department denied Walmart’s application for a beer and wine license in August, prompting Walmart to appeal the decision to the county’s License Review Board, which approved the request in September.
The county’s community development director, Rob Hosack, said the Board of Commissioners would consider the issue at its 9 a.m. meeting on Tuesday.
“For us to be as built out as we are oftentimes there are distance waivers that come up periodically, so it’s not uncommon for the License Review Board to make recommendations to waive the requirement,” Hosack said.
In making the request, Walmart said customers have complained about not having the opportunity to buy beer or wine at the store.
“Over and over our customers complain that they have to go across the parking lot to a gas station to buy their beer or wine (and pay more), or go to another grocer who is allowed to sell beer and wine,” Walmart writes in the appeal. “In retail, if we are not able to compete fairly with other retailers in the market, then our business will suffer.”
Yet Rev. Wood said Walmart knew of the restriction when it built the store.
“Since they’re right next to the church, and the county codes, there was a reason for them to put the code in place I would imagine for them not to sell beer and wine within 600 feet of a church because the youth of the church, the safety of the people in the church,” Wood said.
As for the gas station that Walmart cites, that is located beyond the 600 foot ordinance ban, Wood points out.
“Of course we couldn’t object to that because they were in compliance,” he said.