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In an interview that aired Thursday on two local TV stations, Arkansas state senator Jeremy Hutchinson claims that his proposed private club can operate within 1000 feet of a schoolhouse or church. Hutchinson claims that the 1000 foot rule as stated in Arkansas Code Annotated § 3-4-206 "only applies to retail liquor stores".  Hutchinson went on  to say that "we could open a restaurant here today and serve alcohol."  Hutchinson also stated "we're actually making it less aalcoholic by having a club with limited membership and the ability to control the behavior of the club's members".  We are guessing cousin Asa III won't be invited to join.

Never mind that in order to open the private club he first needs approval from the Little Rock Board of Directors and then approval of his permit application from the ABC. He would also need approval from the ABC to serve alcoholic beverages even at a restaurant.  No wonder he is being sued for legal malpractice.

A.C.A. § 3-4-206 and the ABC Rules & Regulations make it perfectly clear that the 1000 foot rules applies to all permits issued by them.

Sen. Hutchinson, who is also an attorney, should be able to understand plain language.  Hutchinson is misusing the definition of "retail" as defined by the ABC.

This is the ABC's definition of "retailer":

As you can see, it is a fairly broad, all encompassing definition.  If controlled beverages are being sold they are being "retailed".  So if any type of permit holder is selling controlled beverages (i.e., beer, wine or distilled spirits) they are by definition a "retailer".

The ABC Rules & Regulations in the chapter that deals with private clubs, does not list that private clubs are exempt from the 1000 foot rule. 

The private club section also points out that a private club in a wet county must have a "retail beer permit" if they are going to sell beer for consumption on the premises ; a "retail wine permit" if they are going to sell wine for consumption on the premises; as well as a "liquor on premises consumption - private club permit". These are necessary to be able to sell alcoholic beverages as well as purchase alcoholic beverages from licensed distributors.


If being too close to a church and school doesn't kill this deal, the issue of the applicants "good moral character" that is required by the ABC Rules & Regulations certainly will (Hint-be sure to make plans to attend the hearing before the ABC Board on February 17th and you might hear and see some evidence to support assertions that the applicants lack "good moral character").

There is speculation that if the ABC Board denies Hutchinson a permit, he will seek to dissolve it like he did the Arkansas Board of Private Investigators and Private Security Agencies

Here's that story... a private detective was working for Hutchinson's wife (now ex-wife), documenting his adulterous and highly publicized affair during their marriage. Hutchinson, caught in flagrante delicto, made a complaint to the Board of Private Investigators and they rejected his complaint.  So when Uncle Asa got elected, he went after the board with the blessing of his uncle. Goodbye Arkansas Board of Private Investigators and Private Security Agencies.


Some readers have asked how did the defunct Packet House Grill obtained a permit from the ABC if it is less than 1000 feet from the Episcopal Collegiate School?

Well here's how that happened. Back in May of 2012, Wesley Ellis filed an application with the ABC for a permit to sell alcoholic beverages for consumption on the premises for a restaurant.

As part of the application process, the ABC Enforcement section was to go to the proposed location and determine if the location was near a church or school.

An ABC Enforcement agent filed a report that stated the proposed site was over 1000 feet from a nearby school.

At that time the ABC measured the distance from building to building. We accessed a satellite image taken in February 2012, a few months before the ABC Enforcement Agent made his report.  Using the same methodology as the ABC to determine distances, we found that the agent's findings were incorrect as the the actual distance. The distance we found from building to building using the same image that the agent would have used is approximately 562 feet.


So with incorrect measurements the Packet House Grill was granted a permit.

Would the ABC have revoked the permit of the mistake was brought to their attention. Probably not.  They don't have to follow the law or their own rules either.

Corruption at its finest.


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