LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WHAS11) – In a city built on bourbon, liquor stores are creating quite a stir.
After signs went up late last week many in Smoketown say they were caught off-guard by two new liquor stores set to open their doors along Broadway.
After a huge push on social media, Barbara Sexton-Smith and members of city staff sat down inside Metro Hall to address their concerns.
The results left some calling for reform, and others threatening legal action.
One of the city’s oldest neighborhoods, Smoketown has undergone decades of change according to local business owner Nay Trabue.
“Churches are growing,” Trabue said. “We have a lot of community centers. We have a lot of great partnerships coming about. It’s making an amazing thing in Smoketown. It’s almost the place to be now.”
But two proposed liquor stores next door to each other along Broadway have the community up in arms.
“We have been very upset about this because it’s not going to help the community,” Trabue said. “We’re looking for business and commerce to come in and revitalize, and help the community, not hurt the community.”
In the past state law prohibited liquor stores from being within 700 ft. of one another, but after legislative changes in Frankfort, both stores are able to set up shop.
“This is not good business, and it’s not good economic development,” said Metro Councilwoman Barbara Sexton-Smith. “The gentleman who own these business deserve to conduct their business in a community. It is a free world to conduct your business, but you must do that responsibly.”
“It doesn’t help to have liquor stores already in the zip codes where people are having issues and poverty issues,” Trabue said. “Why bring a liquor store that is struggling already in that area.”
In the past, the Louisville ABC Commission has denied applications due to local feedback under similar circumstances, but ultimately the state reversed those decisions.
“We have a severely flawed legislative process in place for the application approval or denial of liquor license in the Commonwealth of Kentucky,” said Sexton-Smith.
However, Smoketown still has one more legal option.
“The next steps for us will be to move to voting the precincts dry,” John Carter Jr. said. “Once the state has done what they’ve done so far it’s a done deal. We need to move on to the next step. In our community, we need a win. We don’t need to play the game, we need to win the game.”
WHAS11 tried to reach out to the owners of the proposed liquor stores, but they weren't available for comment.
At this time neither location has been approved for a liquor license, but it is worth noting that the owners have followed the steps by law.