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How ABC Board Will Choose Who Owns Bethel's Final Liquor License

Reno Moore pulling stock on opening day of the AC Quickstop liquor store.
Geraldine Brink

Three businesses are vying for Bethel’s final liquor store license.

One business has already submitted its application, and the other two are in the three-week public notice period required before applying.

If the other two get their applications in on time, it’ll be up to the Alaska Alcoholic Beverage Control Board to decide which of the three businesses holds the final license.

But how will they choose?

The Players: The three competitors are Kusko Liquor, which would replace Cezary's Auto Body and Paint; the main Alaska Commercial Company store; and Bethel Liquor Store LLC, which would replace Fili’s Pizza restaurant.

The Limit: Bethel is limited to just three liquor store licenses because of its population size. State law sets a limit of one license per 3,000 people or a portion of that, so Bethel gets three.

The Deadline: The two businesses in the public notice phase have to submit their applications by the second weekend of January in order to compete with the already submitted application. That’s because only applications submitted within the same 30 days are considered competing. The clock started ticking on December 16 when Kusko Liquor submitted its application first.

If all the applications are received before the second weekend of January, the board will decide on one applicant at its next meeting using some of the following criteria:

If an application doesn’t meet all state and local requirements, then it’s out.

If an application is protested by its local government and the board approves the protest, then it’s out.

If the board determines any application isn’t in the public’s interest, then that one’s out. The factors for considering public interest are safety, suitability, size of the premises, proximity to other licensed premises, and community amenities associated with the premises like entertainment, dining, and tourism. The local governing body can also add its preferences and priorities to this list.

If there are still competing applications after these factors have been considered, the board will resort to a drawing, essentially pulling a name out of a hat and declaring it the winner. Any loser has a right to appeal.

The board next meets in February 2017.

Anna Rose MacArthur is the KYUK News Director. She has worked at KYUK since 2015 and previously worked at KNOM in Nome, Alaska.
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