State details criteria for alcohol licenses

SHELLEY BYRNE/The Mayfield Messenger

Kentucky Alcoholic Beverage Control investigator Scott Brown (right) explains requirements for businesses to receive an alcohol license from the state Wednesday as (from left) Fire Chief Jeremy Creason, Mayor Kathy O'Nan and Mayfield codes enforcement supervisor William Higginson listen closely.

Mayfield businesses interested in offering alcohol by the drink to customers will pay roughly $1,400 a year to do so.

Scott Brown, investigator for the Kentucky Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control, spoke to a small group of interested business owners during a brief meeting Wednesday at City Hall where they could ask questions.

Brown and Mayfield code enforcement supervisor William Higginson went through the state and city requirements for receiving a retail drink license. Steve Humphries, the state ABC's general counsel, joined the group through Skype to answer specific legal questions.

"You have to meet the criteria for the city first, all the zoning, etc.," Brown said.

Higginson said that would start with existing businesses applying for a $113 conditional use permit that includes alcohol sales. After meeting with Higginson to fill out the paperwork, Higginson would bring the matter before the city's Board of Zoning and Adjustments to approve the permit. That could not happen before Nov. 19, he said.

If approved, the business could then apply for the $620 city license and the $620 state license. The state license application will involve a visit from Brown, who must photograph the business and draw out the floor plan for approval.

Part of the process for the state license involves publishing a newspaper notice and waiting through a 30-day period during which anyone may file to ask that the license not be granted, Brown said.

A business would then have to pay $40 for each server to complete a course in safely serving alcohol, with at least one person certified per business. Servers must be at least 20 years old and have no alcohol-related offense convictions within the past two years.

Additional fees apply if the business wants to sell beer instead of just wine and champagne or if the business wants to sell alcohol on Sunday. The licenses renew each year on Feb. 1, requiring another round of payments, although half-price licenses are available for those who apply before Feb. 1 for the remainder of the license term.

The businesses must also agree to a variety of rules and regulations, including installing security cameras on the inside and outside of their doors and at the cash register, Higginson said.

They must buy any alcohol they offer from a distributor licensed in Kentucky and may not privately purchase it, Brown said.

"If you run out, you can't run out to the liquor store and get more," he said.

He warned that businesses need to allow time for any orders if they are planning a special event that includes alcohol.

"Right now most of it's having to come from Lexington or Louisville, so it it might take a week for a delivery," he said.

Businesses also must not give alcohol away, although they can sell tickets to events that includes a set number of drinks, he said. The business must have at least 50 percent of its sales from something other than alcohol to obtain the license.

"If we get a complaint, we come visit you," Brown told business owners in attendance, which included a clothing boutique, a day spa and a caterer.

He added that although the state ABC is willing to work with business owners to make sure they understand and follow the rules, there will be absolutely no grace given if a business provides alcohol to anyone under 21. Instead, he said, the business would face a hefty fine. That business would also most likely lose its city alcohol license, Higginson said.

The state provides a list of frequently asked questions for potential license holders at abc.ky.gov, as well as the online application for the state license and copies of signs businesses are required to post when selling alcohol.

Despite all the restrictions, two businesses in attendance said the licenses sound like they would be worth it to them.

Jana Duffy, owner of clothing boutique Anaj, said she envisions having an event with wine every two or three months. Having the license means she would not have to hire a caterer each time.

"I feel like this will generate enough revenue to pay for it," she said.

Kelly Cathcart of Magnolia House, a day spa, said people ask about including alcohol in their spa services about three times a week.

"I lost a $1,000 day because we didn't have the license to serve," she said, adding that such days would more than pay for the cost of the license.