After a Gwinnett County Judge’s ruling this week, and a called meeting by the Loganville City Council on Thursday, there are likely to be at least three package stores in Loganville next year. Two of them will be in Gwinnett County.
According to Loganville City Councilman Skip Baliles, the third one has already been approved in Walton County, but that is awaiting the outcome of a Walton County Court ruling. Baliles said he doesn’t know if a similar ruling to Gwinnett would result in a fourth beverage store coming to the city.
“That’s hard to say, because we really don’t know what that ruling will be,” Baliles said. “But in Gwinnett County we had already issued a license. We didn’t do that in Walton County. That license hasn’t yet been issued.”
The saga began after Loganville voters approved a measure on the November 2012 ballot allowing for a beverage store to come to the city. Officials voted to issue two licenses, one in Gwinnett County and one in Walton County. However, seven applications were filed for the two license. After ruling that only one application was in compliance, one beverage store was approved, according to a story in Loganville-Grayson Patch. The successful application was by the Camp Family Partnership for a property in Walton County.
A second application was issued to Highway 78 Real Estate LLC on the Gwinnett County side of the city after an appeal was filed and the initial denial overturned.
A slew of lawsuits followed in both counties with Judge Ronnie Batchelor’s ruling and Thursday’s vote by the Loganville City Council finally resolving the issue in Gwinnett County. Richard Ford, who arranged the petition and got the measure on the ballot, has one location at 330 Athens Highway and Ronald D. Harrison, Sr./DHVW, LLC, has the other, adjacent to the Colonial Buick dealership. Batchelor’s ruling was in favor of Harrison, overturning the city’s denial of his initial application.
“Mr. Ford can proceed now – he already has the license,” Baliles said. “And Mr. Harrison can come in and get his license and proceed whenever he wants to as well.”
Baliles said he is not sure at this time whether Harrison intends to build two beverage stores since he is involved in the Camp Family Partnership, which was the only successful application in Walton County. That property is next door to the American Legion Post 233. However, that license has not yet been issued and is on hold pending a ruling from the Walton County courts. Baliles said they do expect that ruling to come down in the next few days. One of the Walton County appeals is on behalf of Buddy Balance, a company owned by Beth Daniels, the wife of Maxie Price Jr.
“We’re not sure what it will be, or what we will do,” Baliles said. “Obviously we had intended for there to be just two package stores in Loganville, one in each county, but that is not how it turned out.”
Baliles said officials decided that had they appealed the Gwinnett judge’s ruling, it would have just dragged the issue out further.
“We weren’t sure it would be successful and it would have just delayed it even further,” Baliles said, adding they also had concerns about calling for a lottery. Since the license had already been issued, it would likely have opened us up for another lawsuit.”
Officials decided instead to change the ordinance and issue a second license in Gwinnett County.
“It was time for the citizens of Loganville and the business community to move forward,” Baliles said.
Walton County already has two beverage stores, both in the City of Walnut Grove. The closest beverage store in Gwinnett County is in the City of Grayson.