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Council eliminates cap on package stores in Cairo

The Cairo City Council voted 3-2-1 Monday night to lift a restriction on the number of liquor stores within the corporate limits.
Previously, city code restricted the number of package stores to one for every 3,000 residents, which based on the city’s population, allowed up to three locations.
In May, Thomasville businessman David Cochran, owner of Bird Dog Bottle Co. in Thomasville, approached the city council about changing the ordinance.
Cochran is an owner of a large commercial building located at 2695 U.S. 84 East that has been vacant for approximately 18 months since Seminole Wind Restaurant closed its Cairo location.
The ordinance was revised, but it took a rare vote from Cairo Mayor Bobby Burns to break the tie.
Councilmen Lannis Thornton and Kermit Gilliard voted in favor of lifting the restrictions, but Councilmen Ernest Cloud and Bobby Gwaltney opposed. Councilman James H. (Jimmy) Douglas could have broken the tie, but he abstained due to a potential conflict of interest.
“I’m in favor of adoption of the ordinance so it passes 3-2,” Mayor Burns said as he cast his tie-breaking vote. Under the city charter, the mayor presides over meetings, but is only allowed to vote in the event of a tie.
“I’m not in favor of another liquor store in town, but I don’t think we should set a limit on them, the market should. We don’t limit the number of banks, drug stores or Mexican restaurants either,” Councilman Kermit Gilliard said.
Cochran has said his plan is to open a branch of his Bird Dog Bottle Co. store here.
June Knight, owner of The Wine Rack, and Albert Smith, owner of Smitty’s Package Store, had previously appeared before the council and voiced opposition to the revision to the city ordinance.
Cochran’s work to open a new package store here is not done. According to Cairo City Clerk Carolyn Lee, Cochran must now file an application with the city and a public hearing must be advertised and held before the mayor and council can vote to approve his license for packaged liquor sales. Mrs. Lee also reports that Cochran must also apply and obtain a state license to sell packaged spirits.
The city clerk predicts it would take a couple of months to complete the process. With the upcoming holiday season just months away it is likely Cochran will move quickly to put things in place to open before Thanksgiving.
Cochran was out of town early this week and could not be reached for comment.

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