Originally created 11/18/96

Market trying for alcohol license



For the second time in four years, an Augusta convenience store is fighting for the right to sell beer and wine.

Young Han, owner of the Augusta Super Market, has sold alcohol at the store for years.

But members of First Mount Moriah Baptist Church - including Commissioner Moses Todd - say alcohol sales at the Milledgeville Road store contribute to crime in the neighborhood.

"The bottom line is that this operation has had a negative impact on the neighborhood," Mr. Todd said.

Commissioners will decide Tuesday night whether to grant the license.

The first challenge came in 1992, when Ms. Han sold the business to her brother.

At that time, members of First Mount Moriah complained that the alcohol sales led to increased violence in the neighborhood. They pointed to a homicide that occurred in the parking lot of the store in September 1991.

City commissioners agreed with the church members and denied the license. But a judge overturned the commissioners' ruling, arguing that the license denial was arbitrary and without grounds for support.

The business changed hands again a short time later and Ms. Han moved to Colorado. But she moved back in 1994 to again help with the store.

The license lapsed last year after Ms. Han closed the store for 15 months of renovations.

When she reapplied for the license, her request was denied. In addition to the crime problem, officials said her store, which is next door to St. Stephens True Holiness Temple, violates a requirement that businesses selling alcohol be at least 300 feet from a church.

Ms. Han said the crime problem would exist whether the store sells alcohol or not. "How dare they tell everyone it brings crime," she said.

She also said that no one from St. Stephens complained about the alcohol sales, but Mr. Todd said it is up to the commissioners, not the church, to make that decision.

Ms. Han is counting on support from her customers to help convince the board. About 30 customers showed up at last week's public services committee meeting to support Ms. Han's effort.

"I don't think we can survive without the beer and wine," Ms. Han said. "It brings in more traffic and more customers," for other items such as chips, she said.