Bethel’s City Council moves to protest renewal of AC Liquor Store license

by K.J. Lincoln

“I don’t think we should be recommending renewal at all,” said council member Leif Albertson regarding AC Quickstop’s alcohol package store liquor license during their regular meeting on February 13th, 2018.

Council rejected Resolution 18-02, which was originally introduced by Mayor Rick Robb during the January 23rd, 2018 regular meeting. Mayor Robb was absent due to travel.

Resolution 18-02 is a proposed resolution that recommends renewal with conditions for the package store license renewal for AC Quickstop located at 131 Akakeek.

The conditions are for AC Quickstop to apply for and receive a City of Bethel conditional use permit for the store at a new location located away from a dense residential neighborhood with sufficient and safe parking, including safe ingress or egress for vehicles and pedestrians. And to provide adequately trained security personnel both inside and outside the premises during all hours the store is open.

“The current location, while technically in a general use zone, is immediately adjacent to and can be considered part of a crowded residential neighborhood,” states the proposed resolution. “The residential neighborhood, commonly known as ‘housing’ or ‘Bethel Heights’ is the biggest and most dense residential neighborhood in Bethel…Many children live in this area.”

Despite the issues, it is possible that AC can do a better job if the ABC Board (Alcoholic Beverage Control Board) requires them to do so, continues the resolution.

Aaron Sperbeck, attorney for the Alaska Commercial Company was at the meeting. He asked for the City to work with AC as members of the community to sit down and craft a resolution that meets the City’s concerns. They would want a timeline to implement the changes.

“I believe that the AC store is certainly standing ready and willing to work with the city to address the alcohol issues that we all see that are prevalent,” he said. “The AC store is certainly prepared to work with the City in a resolution such as 18-02, that provides for conditions but with the caveat being that it be based on more of a structured timeline with conditions to be met in a reasonable amount of time.”

“Putting these conditions back to the ABC Board and asking them to enforce them, I don’t think that is their role and I don’t think that is the best way to handle this. I don’t think they have the ability or the interest in doing that,” said council member Albertson during discussion.

Resolution 18-02 failed unanimously 5-0. Council member Naim Shabani was the other person absent.

Resolution 18-03 under New Business passed by a vote of 4-1. This resolution protests the renewal for the package store liquor license for AC Quickstop, owned by the North West Company (International) Inc.

The resolution cited excessive calls for services and that the location does not comply with the City’s conditional use permitting standards. It also discusses the neighborhood area where the store is located and the adjacency of three schools, a preschool, and playgrounds. Parking issues were also included.

This resolution, sponsored by council member Albertson, passed introduction. During voting, council member Thor Williams cast the only nay vote.