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Localities want authority over liquor store locations if state privatizes ABC

Anita Kumar

As Gov. Bob McDonnell's administration continues to work on developing its much-anticipated proposal to privatize Virginia's 334 liquor stores, the mere possibility of such a radical change is prompting interest groups across the state to start preparing.

In a recent letter to McDonnell, the Virginia Municipal League and Virginia Association of Counties are asking him to make clear that local government would have the authority to regulate the location of liquor stores. Currently, liquor stores are state facilities and are not subject to local regulation.

"Virginia law recognizes the importance of local land use regulation of businesses and activities that impact a community,'' according to the letter. "Local governments must have zoning authority over the location of liquor stores or any establishment selling alcohol in order to help preserve and create 'convenient, attractive and harmonious' communities."

The governor's staff expects to unveil the proposal in August. The government reform commission will vote on it and McDonnell will likely call legislators back to Richmond for a special session to tackle that and other issues before the end of the years.

The two groups representing localities indicate that they have some concers about the financial impact on cities and localities as well. You can expect another letter soon.

McDonnell administration officials plan to meet with the groups in the coming weeks.

"The administration has been meeting frequently with stakeholders and will work with all those involved to ensure ABC privatization is done in the most effective and efficient way,'' McDonnell spokeswoman Stacey Johnson said. "Just like under current law as it relates to off-premise wine and beer sales, local governments will have a say over where ABC licenses are issued in their jurisdictions for off-premise distilled spirits sales."

By Anita Kumar  |  June 30, 2010; 12:30 PM ET
Categories:  Anita Kumar , Robert F. McDonnell  
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