Alcohol commission went too far

November 19, 2011

Your [Nov. 5] story about the upcoming auction of alcohol permits by the Alcohol & Tobacco Commission failed to tell the whole story. Prior to the recent change in interpretation there were no limits in the number of restaurant permits outside the old pre-Unigov city limits. The old interpretation made Marion County the same as other Indiana counties.

Now there are limits where none existed before. We are now hearing rumors that developers plan to buy up the new permits even though the law prohibits buying permits at auction for speculation. If this is allowed it would force new restaurants to go to a developer to buy their permit and be required to locate in their development.

By letting the new permits move anywhere in the county the value of permits issued in the old city will be dramatically reduced if not destroyed for years to come. Those small business owners that were counting on being able to sell those permits when they retire or who borrowed money to buy those permits will be harmed by the new interpretation. While it is true that this may facilitate the entry of new restaurants, it comes at the expense of existing businesses.

The Alcohol & Tobacco Commission decision to ignore the law and not count beer dealer permits issued for off-premise sales in the area previously considered unincorporated against the quota is simply unexplainable. How can a state agency take it upon itself to make a decision of this magnitude? In every other county in the state those permits are converted and counted against the quota when an area is annexed into a city or town. Neighborhood associations and advocates for public policy that limits the availability of alcohol are understandably concerned about a flood of new beer dealer permits in Marion County.

I believe that changes that have this much impact on existing businesses and public policy should be made [by] the legislature and not by a state agency charged with administering the public policy as determined by the General Assembly.


John Livengood
president, Indiana Restaurant Association Indiana Association of Beverage Retailers

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