St. Matthews liquor store battle to continue at least a couple weeks


by Rachel Nix

Posted on October 14, 2009 at 12:49 PM

Updated Wednesday, Oct 14 at 12:50 PM

(WHAS11) - The term "friendly competition" does not apply in Saint Matthews, at least not with liquor stores  and the city council caught in a legal battle.

Only a circuit court judge will say it but this is all about competition.

Beverage Warehouse hopes they can use a city ordinance from the 1950's to keep their competition from opening up right across the street. But that competition, Liquor Barn, says now it would be illegal to try and stop them.

Beverage Warehouse and Liquor Barn are, quite literally, just a stone's throw apart. Both chain liquor stores, both in it for profit and both out to get what they want.

"My eloquent opponent has made me look like a pretty bad guy," said Ken Handmaker, Liquor Barn’s attorney.

Attorneys for both stores argued their points to the Saint Matthews City Council.

Beverage Warehouse points to a 55-year-old ordinance requiring Liquor Barn to be 700 feet away which, directly, they are not.

"If you walk down the street, go across the street, come down and come to here, that's the only way you get above 700 feet in measuring," said Larkin Fore, Beverage Warehouse’s attorney.

But the city attorney shot down that argument.

"It is doubtful that this ordinance has any bearing on the issuance of a liquor license as it has not been followed for more than 32 years which is the time I have been attorney for the city," said Foster Haunz, St. Matthews City Attorney.

And Liquor Barn reminded the city if they reversed their previous approval now, it would be costly.

"They have spent millions of dollars in reliance upon administrator king's approval and the state approval," said Handmaker.

At first, the city denied Liquor Barn approval then they wrote what a judge called a thinly veiled threat prompting city approval.

Still, Beverage Warehouse says Saint Matthews can't ignore its own ordinance and both sides suggested they would sue if they don't get what they want.

We'll see who wins at the next city council meeting on October 27th.