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Petition doesn't sway Athens alcohol vote

By Holly Hollman 340-2445

ATHENS — A petition with more than 600 names didn't keep a majority of City Council members from sticking to their alcohol ordinance and giving a grocery store permission to sell alcohol next door to a church.

At Tuesday's meeting, the council voted 4-1 to approve alcohol sales for L&S Food on Jefferson Street, which is next to Northside Church of Christ.

Congregation member Homer Pack gave the council a petition with 621 names of church members and Athens residents who are against L&S selling alcohol. Pack said the church contacted the Alabama Alcoholic Beverage Control Board in Huntsville, which told him to give the petition to the council. ABC will give the final approval for alcohol sales.

During a May public hearing on the alcohol request, church members said alcohol next door would increase crime and littering on church property.

Council members Ronnie Marks, Jimmy Gill, Johnny Crutcher and Milly Caudle said they had no choice but follow the city's ordinance, which exempts grocery stores from having to be 500 feet from a church or school.

Council President Harold Wales cast the lone vote against approval.

"I've wrestled with this for a month," Wales said. "I have a right to vote the way I feel. I've got to live with myself."

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