Beer, wine store gets opposition

Children's Home director worries of increased homeless presence near facility

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The addition of an upscale beer and wine retailer might be seen by some as a sign of progress in downtown Augusta. Others view it differently.

Aficionados, a beer, wine and cigar shop, will open at 307 Eighth St. (far right). City officials say it is the required distance from the United Methodist Children's Home (far left), at 325 Eighth St. The director of the home has petitioned against the store.   Corey Perrine/Staff
Corey Perrine/Staff
Aficionados, a beer, wine and cigar shop, will open at 307 Eighth St. (far right). City officials say it is the required distance from the United Methodist Children's Home (far left), at 325 Eighth St. The director of the home has petitioned against the store.

"There are Bible studies that go on within our facilities," said Thurman Norville, a Methodist minister who is the director of United Methodist Children's Home on Eighth Street. "We also counsel families and individuals who are suffering because of alcohol."

The children's home, where children do not reside, stood out as the lone voice of opposition Monday to Louis Williamson's plans to open Aficionados, an upscale beer, wine and cigar store nearby at 307 Eighth St. Ten others signed a petition against the store, Norville said.

Williamson's application met Augusta's requirements that alcohol retailers be 100 yards away from a church, and the Richmond County Sheriff's Office knew of no significant problems in the area, according to Rob Sherman, the director of Augusta licensing and inspections.

Norville disagreed.

"Some of our folks that come in for counseling are ... accosted at night when panhandlers ask for money," he said. "Do we really need one more shop that's going to serve retail beer and wine where someone can go in and purchase it and walk right out the door?"

According to Williamson, Aficionados is geared toward consumers with a median income of $75,000, not the homeless.

"We're not going to cater toward the type of people the gentlemen spoke of earlier," he said.

An Augusta Commission committee agreed to license Williamson, but the full commission will vote on the matter Tuesday after Sherman provides more information about crime in the area, Mayor Pro Tem Joe Bowles said.

A member of a nearby church was adamant the new store would cause no harm.

"I wholeheartedly support it and think it's a good addition to the vitality of downtown," David Moretz said.

Aficionados is unlikely to be the last new alcohol store moving downtown; last week, Augusta lowered the minimum required distance between such stores from 11/2 miles to 500 yards. Commissioner Corey Johnson said he was concerned the move might "saturate certain areas," but Bowles said applications could be handled individually or certain areas could be carved out of the ordinance.

"I believe we can control the package shops like we can the bars if there's an excess," Bowles said.

Bill Price, the owner of Bill's Place, a package shop on Fifth Street, was skeptical, saying the move was simply another way for the commission to generate revenue.

"They just want money," Price said.

The change opened the door for Aficionados, which will pay $1,210 for its license to sell alcohol.

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usapatriot
0
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usapatriot 01/26/11 - 03:38 am
0
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So, is there a sign at the

So, is there a sign at the door saying "If you're homeless, you can't afford anything here."?

or maybe

"Homeless money not accepted."

TakeAHike
186
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TakeAHike 01/26/11 - 04:09 am
0
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Why is an historical

Why is an historical orphanage designated a church? According to their own website, the state Department of Human Resources certifies them as a "child placing agency and child caring institution". However, the downtown office is not a residential facility. Personally, I'd have preferred that the new shop offer upscale wines and chocolates. Cigars?? Yuck! Augusta should ban smoking in all restaurants, bars, and public parks. Either way, a shop catering to professionals isn't going to cause a bother downtown. People are going to pick up a nice wine for dinner and go home. It would be great if they can open up before the Superbowl and stock some good WI microbrews.

Brad Owens
4229
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Brad Owens 01/26/11 - 04:14 am
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Great News! Congrats Tony.

Great News! Congrats Tony. You and your family have made a difference downtown and anyting you all do willl be for the betterment.

Great news, I support this 100%

New business? That will create jobs and revenues. You know we can't have that downtown!

Private business is the key to real re-development, not Gazillion dollar tax payer funded TEE centers...

Brad

mike71345
75
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mike71345 01/26/11 - 04:15 am
0
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"Williamson's application met

"Williamson's application met Augusta's requirements that alcohol retailers be 100 yards away from a church"
A law that required churches to stay 100 yards away from alcohol retailers would be just as unreasonable as the present law.

Cadence
219
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Cadence 01/26/11 - 04:55 am
0
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What exactly does upscale

What exactly does upscale mean?

Just My Opinion
5454
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Just My Opinion 01/26/11 - 06:05 am
0
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I think it would've been nice

I think it would've been nice if the paper didn't just mention David Moretz as just being a member of a nearby church. David is also a realtor in the area and has been very involved in getting businesses located downtown. So, he's got other reasons for wanting this place opened. Personally, I really don't care if this place opens or not. I do wish them well. Can't see how they think that the homeless alcoholics won't be coming in, whether they're catered to or not. It's a free country, and they can certainly come in and look around.

Dixieman
14227
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Dixieman 01/26/11 - 07:16 am
0
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There is no logical reason

There is no logical reason for the 100 yards from a church law! It should be repealed. Good for these folks for wanting to start an upscale business in downtown AUG.

justmy2cents
0
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justmy2cents 01/26/11 - 08:15 am
0
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@Candence, It means he is

@Candence,

It means he is selling $30 cigars, not the $1 ones you get at Circle K. Likewise, while he may sell beer, it will not be 40oz cans of Old Milwaukee sold one at a time.

Thus why he can claim he is not catering to the 'homeless' crowd. If you have never been to a cigar bar (not one in this area to my knowledge) it is easy to miss the fine like between liquor store & wine/cigar store.

tuffenuf4u
0
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tuffenuf4u 01/26/11 - 08:23 am
0
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How can one expect the

How can one expect the homeless and vagrant to not frequent a new establishment that will be in the heart of their neighborhood?

countyman
19698
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countyman 01/26/11 - 08:46 am
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Tuffenu4u.. The homeless hang

Tuffenu4u.. The homeless hang out on Greene Street near the Salvation army or at the Masters table not on that stretch of 8th street....

Aficianodos looks nothing similar to a package shop.. There are tables and chairs inside the building.. If you walk past the business you can see how upscale the place is..

There is a reason why there is only one opposition and the sheriff said the area has no significant problems.. And why would a homeless person on the street walk into Aficianodos... Unless you knew the establishment was there you wouldn't even notice it... Plus there are several other businesses and new businesses on the stretch of 8th street. None of those businesses are worryiing about vagrants or homeless walking into the store.

Save the energy and time when a mom n pop package store wants to open downtown.

Frank I
1172
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Frank I 01/26/11 - 09:10 am
0
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I know you're all for

I know you're all for downtown countyman, but if you think the vagrants don't come down to that stretch of 8th/Ellis/Broad, you really should open your eyes a little more. However, if Mr. Norville and his flock are being accosted by panhandlers then they should make contact with the sheriffs office. The city has an ordinance and if the sheep don't enforce it, the wolves will still hunt.

WW1949
19
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WW1949 01/26/11 - 09:33 am
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They probably will not sell

They probably will not sell spirits in half paints also. The favorite size for those addicted. Mr. Prince shre has profited from being downtown at 5th and Broad. Been there severeal times myself. Let the man open his store if he meets the requirements.

bankgirl
0
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bankgirl 01/26/11 - 09:58 am
0
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Congrats on the new store

Congrats on the new store Tony! I can't wait to check it out.

rocketserve
280
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rocketserve 01/26/11 - 10:00 am
0
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This is a prime reason why
Unpublished

This is a prime reason why Augusta is still regarded as a small town that will never attract major business to the area. The churches still try to control the local government and what businesses can and cannot open under the name of religion.

countyman
19698
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countyman 01/26/11 - 10:16 am
0
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Frank1... I never said there

Frank1... I never said there are no homeless people on that strech of 8th street between Greene and Broad.. But it's usually not maybe more than 1 or 2 men... The point i was making is Aficianodos looks more like a restaurant or lounge compared to a regular package shop... No homeless person will confuse the establishment with package shop...

Rocketserve... Augusta has attracted several new businesses to the area. Several people and publications(Brookings, Forbes, Businessweek, Georgia Trend, CNBC, CNN, etc)outside of the city are noticing.. Georgia Trend is constantly asking how does Augusta continue to attract new companies and jobs.. But I get the point you're trying to make about Augusta still not being progressive enough...

stacyatkins
4
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stacyatkins 01/26/11 - 10:21 am
0
0
People who want to "BAN"

People who want to "BAN" something just because they, personally, disagree with it should reconsider calling themselves an American and consider moving to another country that agrees with their philosophy. I would suggest North Korea, or Saudi Arabia, or maybe even Bhutan. Perhaps, then you would have the perspective and the time to look up and learn the meaning of freedom. I feel ashamed to share the same air as you.

zcock
60
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zcock 01/26/11 - 10:34 am
0
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Brad... that gazillion dollar

Brad... that gazillion dollar Tee center will help spur more of these type small businesses.

mike1sc
217
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mike1sc 01/26/11 - 10:54 am
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Look....let's face it..there

Look....let's face it..there are cities that are progressive and move forward, and then there are those which feel living in the 1950s is acceptable. Downtown Augusta is well known for having both, with the latter trying to block any progression, whether it be good or bad for the community.

Unfortunately, you just can't have it both ways. It is somewhat amusing that topless/bottomless places have been running in the downtown area forever with little fanfare, but a guy wants to open an upscale cigar bar and someone wants to complain? Please....

I applaud the folks that have put their hard earned money into downtown businesses with little chance of success. At least they are being progressive thinking, and attempting to pull the downtown area along with the hopes the general area just might become a destination choice for the general population. Whether it will or not depends on the masses.....

tuffenuf4u
0
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tuffenuf4u 01/26/11 - 12:21 pm
0
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One would not think that a

One would not think that a homeless [rson would spend the day in a local bookstore, But a couple of years ago, I would have a little free time before picking my wife up from work,(after I had finished work)< since this book store was convenient, I would drop in and spend an hour or so browsing through books. Every time I stopped in, this same person was always there, in the same place. One day I saw a woman go over to this person and offer her a small donation. So I knew this woman was aware of this woman's plight. And this is one of our upscale bookstores located in a major shopping center, not some obscure bookstore in a back alley location.

DawgnSC69
255
Points
DawgnSC69 01/26/11 - 12:45 pm
0
0
Will this place have a cigar

Will this place have a cigar bar. If not, there needs to be one.

Frank I
1172
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Frank I 01/26/11 - 01:10 pm
0
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Those looking to panhandle

Those looking to panhandle don't care what's inside an establishment, only that people "with money" come in and out... I've been harassed coming out of businesses that don't offer alcohol, but they quickly left when reminded of the law... Again, I hope they are successful... It'll be nice to have something a little upscale downtown, and I know that if they get a foothold then perhaps others will follow

soldout
1280
Points
soldout 01/26/11 - 01:37 pm
0
0
Alcohol serves no good

Alcohol serves no good purpose and the tax revenues never cover the expenses of having it available. I am always surprised at the number of people that require alcohol to enjoy life or social events. For me peace and joy beats temporary happiness everytime. It is just another tool the devil uses to destroy lives. The worst must be for the parent who has alcohol in their home, which influences the child to drink, and then one day they stand by the fresh grave of their child that dies because of alcohol. There are plenty of risks in life without adding alcohol. We can't really teach children to not do drugs while we consume alcohol. If you never drink, you will never know the effect of it and never turn to alcohol to cover up a problem.

onlysane1left
216
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onlysane1left 01/26/11 - 03:44 pm
0
0
Albeit, alcohol is a vice and

Albeit, alcohol is a vice and a legal drug, but if you are going to codemn its use, then why not also complain about people who do other legal things to deal with life, or just to make them happy. Some people spend money they dont have and put their family in jeopardy be getting them evicted or in horrid financial situations. Some people use food to ease their nerves and end up wrecking their health. These, too, can be called tools of the devil. People fall into foolish traps with the materials around them, to blame them as tools of the devil, is a cop out. The person must have the will to fight the depression, stress, or whatever to get over the things that bring them down. I grew up around several alcoholics and I, too, blamed the liquor. Now I see, it was not the drug, but the person, that needs the help and support. To take it away, just gives allows them to search for a new way to feed what addiction they need to make them happy. Sometimes, it works, but most of the time, it's something worse.

Jackson
0
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Jackson 01/26/11 - 04:39 pm
0
0
I used to love stopping by

I used to love stopping by this kind of place to get a great bottle of wine to go with dinner. I don't drink alcohol or smoke cigars anymore but if I did I'm sure I would patronize them.
If it's the kind of place I think it's going to be then I'm sure they won't sell Budweiser and Dutchmaster's.
What I don't understand is just because it sells alcohol and tobacco is why it's being frowned upon? Please tell me you're kidding. You can't have a Bible study because of a store selling beer, wine and cigars? Or is it because they're afraid that it will bring in the wrong element.
I don't go downtown but from what I hear it doesn't really matter. If there's a panhandling problem it won't be because of this kind of business. You could buy two cases of Old Milwaulkee before you could afford A six-pack of fine beer. Do you really think a panhandler would be buying a forty dollar bottle of wine?
Anyway I won't be going there unless they sell fine cheese. I would really like to find some gorganzola. The grocery store brand is pretty lousy.

Brad Owens
4229
Points
Brad Owens 01/26/11 - 04:59 pm
0
0
zcock, If we spent the TEE's

zcock,

If we spent the TEE's $100,000,000.00 on helping everyone downtown I would say maybe.

If you think the TEE will bring small business owners? You must be joking.

Brad

InChristLove
22459
Points
InChristLove 01/26/11 - 08:21 pm
0
0
It's truly sad that one

It's truly sad that one mention of Christ or Christian and the nasty comes out. I don't know this person that wants to open this establishment and really don't care if it opens or not but I believe Mr. Norville has a legitimate concern. The United Methodist Children's Home provides assistance to needy families and says that some of the people that come in for counseling have been accosted by pan handlers. He also states that some of these individuals come in for alcohol counseling and I agree having a beer and wine store so close, upscale or not, doesn't seem like a smart idea. Whether this store is geared towards medium income ($75,000) or not, do you think the pan handlers are going to be picky. Who better to pan handle than the customers coming and going to this fine establishment. If Mr. Williamson's application met all the requirements then let him open it, doesn't mean everyone has to agree with it.

Fiat_Lux
15042
Points
Fiat_Lux 01/26/11 - 08:47 pm
0
0
People coming out of the

People coming out of the churches in that area get accosted by panhandlers as well. As targets go, church-goers are at least as attractive to panhandlers as anyone coming out of a liquor store.

Mrs. Jackson
0
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Mrs. Jackson 01/26/11 - 10:54 pm
0
0
I'd like to touch on three

I'd like to touch on three different topics that everyone seems to be attaching themselves to. First the comment:"Some of our folks that come in for counseling are ... accosted at night when panhandlers ask for money,". That wouldn't be and issue considering the lights that have already been added to that section of the street would deter a good deal of criminal activity ALSO, the business that is generated would be of help too. Common sense say's more people in an area eguals less crime. Secondly, the "homeless" issue, from what I understand wouldn't be an issue due to the fact the Aficionados intends on being a Members Only store and finally, I personally feel Mr. Price has NO RIGHT being allowed to comment on ANY downtown business considering he as the owner of a liquor store doesn't bother to check ID's or have his employee's do so. Can the Church please be upset about that instead of hindering a new business from opening? Everyone preaches about supporting downtown and making it a better place then when opportunity comes along it gets denied. Truly sad!

albertoli
179
Points
albertoli 01/27/11 - 01:08 am
0
0
isn't that the building some

isn't that the building some lawyer bought for about $80k and then immediately got a HUD urban development grant for a facade renovation that cost the taxpayers about $80k in the late 80's- early 90's?

fdn315
2
Points
fdn315 01/27/11 - 03:22 am
0
0
My uncle owned a bar on the

My uncle owned a bar on the corner of 12th and Laney Walker called the coozey corner. My family tells me that this law was enacted because Tabernacle didn't want it that close to their church. Don't know if that's true or not but it lead to the store closing the building deteriorating causing an eyesore and now it's been torn down to be used as a parking lot for.... Tabernacle

I like that businesses of any kind are coming downtown because a strong core breeds growth throughout the city. I also believe the cities investments in the downtown area be it the TEE center, parking deck, New Court house, or private investments such as the whites building old emporium and the kroc center all serve as assurance for businesses to open downtown.

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