State board denies liquor license to local Walmart

TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) - Walmart has begun hiring for it's new store in El Con mall, but it will open without a beer and wine aisle.

Still, the fight may not be over.

Walmart, in a written statement, says it is evaluating next steps to offer what it does at its other stores.

The retail giant can try to appeal the denial of its liquor license application all the way to the courts, or it can just wait a year and apply again.

The liquor board says the denial was based on location.

Tucson's mayor and council had joined some central neighborhoods in opposing the application.

City attorney mike rankin says the mayor and council, generally, had two reasons why.

"The first would be that the applicant, WalMart, didn't meet their burden of showing that this license was necessary to serve the public convenience. Secondly, particularly as shown by the neighborhood protest, that issuing this license would have been incompatible with the existing uses," Rankin says.

There's a Target store at the other end of El Con Mall, and it has a liquor license.

Colonia Solana Homeowner's Association Treasurer Gricelda Diaz-Eades says her group's opposition to the liquor license was not about the WalMart, but that it was about the alcohol sales.

"Frankly, there's plenty of opportunity to buy alcohol in the neighborhood, and we don't need someone selling alcohol 20 hours a day and seven days a week. So that's what it was all about," Diaz-Eades says.

Arizona Liquor Board Communications Director Lee Hill gave these reasons for the denial.

Hill said:

"The denial for WalMart was based on location.

1A-Proximity to the neighborhood.

1B-Proximity to the layout of the entrance. In the current layout the entrancce faces the neighborhood rather than Broadway. WallMart did not want to rotate the orientation of the entrance which is not optimal to prevent criminal activity because there's no line of sight for officers.

2-The community has concerns over times of service of liquor.

3-The number of protests that had a valid argument that the public convenience would not be served if the license was issued."

Hill said numbers one through three were the basis of the decision for the license being denied based on location.

In response to KOLD's request for a comment, WallMart emailed this statement:

"Walmart strives to offer a broad assortment of goods and products to meet the needs and desires of our customers, including a variety of beer, wine, and spirits where our stores are licensed to sell these products and we are evaluating next steps to offer the same value to our Midtown customers.  We take our responsibility as a good corporate citizen seriously and are proud of our record with the Arizona Department of Liquor Licenses and Control.  The series 9 license we have requested is the same one held by most major grocers in Tucson."

Copyright 2013 Tucson News Now. All rights reserved.