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Liquor Control Board sticks with 20-mile restriction on small liquor stores, with exceptions

Post by Jordan Schrader / The News Tribune on May 8, 2013 at 12:24 pm with No Comments »
May 8, 2013 12:25 pm
Tony Overman photo

You shouldn’t have to drive more than 20 miles to buy your whiskey and gin.

That’s the idea of a rule the state Liquor Control Board proposed in March, making an exception for small stores under 10,000 square feet that otherwise are mostly barred from opening under voter-approved liquor privatization. It’s a pretty narrow exception, permitting perhaps 20 stores, the board has estimated. Most are likely to be in Eastern Washington.

Today the board widened the exception slightly, moving forward unanimously with a revised proposal that also allows small stores on islands that are inaccessible by car and stores run by an Indian tribe on tribal land.

The board staff said requests for changes came from potential sellers in the Roche Harbor area of the San Juan Islands and the Samish Indian Nation in northwestern Washington.

Former state liquor stores and contract stores will continue to be grandfathered in, and aren’t subject to these limits. And stores are not allowed to open within 20 miles of a former state store whose rights have been sold at auction to a private operator, even if the store isn’t currently open — an addition made today to satisfy rights holders.

Because of the changes, the process of collecting public comment has to start over, including a June 26 public hearing and a final approval July 3 or later.



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