Hearings on Walgreens’ bid to sell alcohol continued

Hearings scheduled Monday morning to consider Walgreens’ requests for new alcohol permits at several of its stores
in Marion County have been continued.

The Local Alcoholic Beverage Board was set to hear requests for 10 of 29 permits the Illinois-based drugstore chain is seeking
in the county. But the board granted the retailer a continuance to give it more time to prepare.

Eight of the permit requests now are set to be heard April 19. Applications for a store in Beech Grove and another in Lawrence
are set for May 3.

Walgreens is requesting the right to sell beer and wine in at least 53 stores in central Indiana, including 29 in Marion
County. Because of the continuance, the beverage board could begin hearing some of the other 19 requests for permits as soon
as March 15, its next scheduled meeting.

Walgreens stopped selling alcohol more than a decade ago. But competition, mainly from rival Rhode Island-based CVS Caremark
Corp., is prompting the change in policy.

That is sparking opposition among local community groups such as Drug Free Marion County and the Marion County Alliance of
Neighborhood Associations. Representatives from both were among several concerned citizens prepared to contest the permits
at the Monday hearing.

Norman Pace, the neighborhood alliance’s director for Warren Township, said two of the Walgreens seeking permission
to sell alcohol are across from educational facilities.

He further argued that Indianapolis already has enough alcohol permits—more than 5,000—at bars, restaurants and
grocery and convenience stores.

“We have already exceeded the capacity,” he said. “They’re handing out these alcohol permits like
candy in a candy store.”

Nancy Beals, prevention program coordinator at Drug Free Marion County, concurred.

“It’s not that we don’t want Walgreens to sell alcohol,” she said. “We just don’t want
the over-saturation.”

The alcoholic beverage board cannot grant permit approval. It only makes recommendations to the Indiana Alcohol Tobacco Commission.

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