Going the Distance on Liquor Law

Seems pretty simple.

St. Matthews has a law requiring that new liquor stores must be at least 700 feet from existing liquor stores.

And as you can see from this picture, the new Liquor Barn under construction on Shelbyville Road is pretty darn close to the Beverage Warehouse operation across the street.

The Beverage Warehouse owner, Greg Anastas, is suing St. Matthews, Liquor Barn and the state ABC Board for allowing construction to continue toward a planned early October opening. A judge will rule this week on whether or not to delay things — with the case hinging on how you measure the distance between the front doors of the two storefronts. Here’s how the C-J covered the story.

The St. Matthews ABC administrator, James King, issued a letter to Liquor Barn attorney Kenneth Handmaker March 10 indicating he’d measured the distance and found it to be too close. Not the end of the story, however.

The next day King got a letter from Handmaker, threatening an appeal.  On March 11, King changed his mind and approved the application for St. Matthews.

Liquor Barn believes the measurement required by the law is that the 700-foot barrier must be taken by going out the front door, walking to the nearest crosswalk, crossing the street and coming back. Anastas says you merely have to go to a nearer spot to cross the street.

Anastas believes the opening of the store across the street would obviously impact his business. He’s got four stores in the city, including one that competes with a Liquor Barn near Hursbourne. When he opened that store three years ago, he says he was able to take 30 percent of Liquor Barn’s business in that location.

The new Liquor Barn, on the site of a former car dealership, would be at least five times as large as the Beverage Warehouse on Shelbyville Road, and would be right across the street.

“The St. Matthews law is obviously  being broken,” Anastas said. “My goal is to win this or to get a legal answer on why I’m wrong. Neither has been given.”

Anastas says he explained how and why the law was being broken in May, and provided copies to all concerned, and that he still hasn’t gotten a response.