“I believe it could have a negative influence on our city and in my neighborhood especially,” said David White, who lives within walking distance of the store.
White’s concerns stem from his perception that the change will increase traffic on Airport Road.
“There are a lot of accidents, especially in this area where the Dollar General store is,” he said.
Councilor Gary Cowen said he doesn’t think allowing the store to sell beer and wine will increase Airport Road traffic. He added the proposed change may actually decrease traffic because consumers planning to buy beer and wine will not be going to two different places to do their shopping.
“I think traffic on the road probably won’t go up or down,” Cowen said. “It may alleviate some of the traveling back and forth.”
Nichole Berzett, a district manager for Dollar General, said Dolgencorp, the parent company of the stores, wants to provide an additional service to customers by selling the alcoholic beverages.
“A lot of our customers who come in are there to buy everything they need,” she said. “This would just be an added convenience.”
White also pointed out that “the safety of our children” should be considered by the Council before making a decision on allowing the store to sell alcohol.
“You would think that if our Council could make a decision to protect our children and grandchildren from the harmful effects of smoking ... they could apply some of that same logic in the area of alcoholic beverage sales in a residential neighborhood.”
Berzett said Dollar General trains its cashiers about laws regarding alcohol sales to ensure those who are under the age of 21 are not sold beer or wine by Dollar General. She added that managers at the local stores will also undergo “intensive training.”
“Everyone will be trained properly according to the state regulations,” she said.
Jasper Police officer Joe Herron said local law enforcement officials foresee “no problem” with allowing the stores to obtain a retail license to sell beer and wine for off-premise consumption. The Council concurred and Dolgencorp’s request was unanimously approved.
City attorney Russ Robertson said that because the stores meet all the requirements to be able to obtain a retail beer and wine for off-premise consumption license, denying the request would be futile since the state would most likely override the Council’s decision, if requested.
The other Dollar General stores expected to begin selling beer and wine are located at 171 Highway 5, 1902 7th Avenue West and 573 Highway 78 West.
Also at Tuesday’s Council meeting, city officials agreed to use the city’s current operating budget for an additional 30 days.
The Council will meet today at 11:30 a.m. at city hall for a work session to discuss the budget for the fiscal year ending Sept. 30, 2011.