The public don’t want it!
That’s how it looked at a July 12 public hearing on whether to allow a liquor store in Takoma Park. 5 out of 7 residents who spoke up were against it, even the woman who signed up to speak by accident, but came to the podium anyway with an impromptu plea not to sully Takoma Park’s ambiance.
Taking a lonely stand in favor of a liquor store, Seth Grimes, local resident, business owner, and former mayoral candidate said it would bring in “significant” tax revenue, and would be an asset to the commercial district. He pooh-poohed fears that it might cause blight.
Straddling the fence was Takoma Park/Silver Spring Food Coop board president Lorig Charkoudian. She said coop members had expressed interest in the store selling organic beer and wine, but she questioned whether they could get those products, given how all liquor sales must be transacted through the county liquor control department.
Former city councilmember Paul d’Eustachio spoke vehemently against allowing a liquor store. It would bring, he said, a “raft of uncontrollable problems.” He said the city would be “asking for trouble,” because it could not rely on Montgomery County to regulate the licensing according to the wishes and best interests of the city. Takoma Park would not likely get the “chic beer and wine store” it envisions, he predicted.
If the argument in favor of it is that the city needs new businesses, he said, “I don’t see it.” d’Eustachio said there were empty store fronts in the city’s commercial areas when a liquor store was first proposed, but now many of those store fronts are filled with new, vibrant businesses.
He and other residents said the same property tax income would come from any kind of store, a liquor store would bring in no extra income to the city. It would get no share of the state tax on alcohol.
One citizen said there were several liquor stores just outside the city’s border at several points – within walking distance of most city neighborhoods. But, he said, all of them were tainted by graffiti, blight, lack of aesthetics, and undesirable loiterers – elements he did not want to see in Takoma Park.
A couple of commentators, including the accidental one, said that a liquor store seems out of sync with, and a threat to,Takoma Park’s image and character.
The council is still taking e-mail comments on this issue until Friday, July 16th. Go here and click on the picture of your councilmember and/or the mayor. That will take you to a page with an e-mail address.
For more background, see this granolapark posting and this one, too. Full disclosure – Your Gilbert thinks this is a terrible idea, but we TRY to be objective, except when stating our excellent and wise opinion, which we flag as such.