Originally created 05/17/98

Court to hear license dispute



A Hephzibah-area businessman denied a license to sell beer and wine at his new convenience store is taking the issue to the Georgia Supreme Court..

The state's highest court will hear arguments Monday on Myong Tul Chu's petition seeking a license to sell beer and wine at his new store, which is across the street from his old store where he sold beer and wine for nine years.

Mr. Chu's application for a new license for Bi-Rite Convenience Store, 1680 Brown Road, was approved by the Richmond County license and sheriff's departments, and by the Augusta Commission's public services committee. But Mr. Chu's application ran into trouble at the full commission meeting when people who lived in the neighborhood objected to the license.

Jimmy Smith of the 1300 block of Brown Road told commissioners the license would harm the neighborhood community which includes two churches, an elementary school and plans for a new high school nearby.

At a reconsidering hearing in September, commissioners again voted against Mr. Chu after they received a petition signed by 579 residents of the Pine Hill community.

Mr. Chu had never been cited for violating any condition of his previous license in nine years, and his new store location is far enough from nearby schools and churches, according to the city ordinance governing the license.

Mr. Chu appealed to the Richmond County Superior Court, but Judge Albert M. Pickett agreed with City Attorney Jim Wall -- the city ordinance allows commissioners to deny a license at their discretion after considering quality-of-life issues for the surrounding area.