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Tampa businessman: Macclenny hearing for Smoker Friendly liquor license wasn’t needed, vows to go to court

A Tampa Bay man in the liquor license business wants to sell the license that used to belong to the ABC Liquors location in Macclenny to the owner of Smoker Friendly, a beer, wine and tobacco products retailer on S. 6th St.

The city’s Zoning Adjustment Board denied owner Ghandi “Andre” Ayoub’s special exception application to sell liquor by the package during a public hearing in February, and now the Tampa businessman, Jerry Minton, says the exception application wasn’t needed, according to the city’s liquor laws, which govern how far liquor may be sold from churches, schools and parks, and what days and times it may be sold.

Mr. Minton argues that the code explicitly exempts “package stores” from the location restrictions. He says he intends to file a lawsuit against the city to force zoning officials to sign Mr. Ayoub’s liquor license application with the state.

The section of the code, Chapter 4 on alcoholic beverages, that Mr. Milton cited reads in part:

No person shall construct any bar, beer hall or juke joint in the city, or use an existing building within one thousand (1,000) feet of any church, public playground or public school. Provided, however, this prohibition does not include package stores, grocery stores, restaurants (over sixty (60) percent of gross revenue from food sales) and private clubs (Moose, Elks, Eagles, Veterans, etc).

“Where did they get the authority for an exception hearing?” said Mr. Milton. He said he’s been in contact with city attorney Frank Maloney, but the attorney has since stopped responding to his questions.

“Now I’m going to the max,” he said today. “I’m not backing down now. They made me mad.”

See next week’s edition for more details on the potential legal fight, including the response of city officials.

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