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Liquor and signs were on the table at Centralia City Hall the evening of Aug. 6.
Discussion started with Satmal Mahel of Columbia who said the aldermen’s’ failure to act could hurt his business.
The heart of the matter to which he referred was the number of package liquor licenses issued by the city of Centralia.
Currently city ordinance limits the number of package liquor licenses to seven.
City administrator Lynn Behrns explained to the five aldermen present that in the past the number of package liquor vendors was determined by a ratio of vendors to Centralia’s population.
The former Prairie Queen, currently called Extreme Mart, at the intersection of Allen Street and Highway 22, is in the process of changing hands.
The business owners, he said, are transferring their license to a future establishment one block west.
A bit earlier, as part of Prenger Food’s expansion, that business had applied for a new license for their establishment going in across from Chester Boren Middle School. That, said Behrns, would be the seventh license.
That caused a problem for Mahel.
He had owned the business at the corner of Allen and 22 for the last four years, he said. “And what is happening, my tenant is moving out and it taking the license with him, leaving me with having no license,” Mahel said. “It’s very hard for me to find a new tenant, it will reduce the value of my property, the value of the business itself…”
He asked the aldermen to do what they could to help him get a license so he could get back to business “operating at full speed.”
Which they did.
Catherine Simmons, Ward I alderman, suggested changing the population to business ratio so the city could have as many as 10 stores able to serve package liquor.
That suggestion garnered no seconds. However Ward III’s Landon Magley brought up doing away with the statute limiting the number of package liquor vendors.
That got traction.
“You could double the number of licenses and not substantially increase the number of people coming to town to buy liquor,” said Lynn Behrns, Centralia city administrator.
Ward II’s Don Bormann said he was uncomfortable with the city “arbitrarily deciding which businesses can and cannot come in.”
“I say we just get rid of it,” said Magley referring to the current statute.
For the complete article, please see this week’s edition of the Centralia Fireside Guard.