Walker County Commissioners Update Code of Ordinances for Distilled Spirits Retail Licensing


In a recent development, the Walker County Board of Commissioners has made amendments to the county’s Code of Ordinances to accommodate the issuance of licenses for the sale of packaged distilled spirits within the unincorporated regions of the county. This decision comes after a referendum last fall, in which 67% of Walker County voters granted approval for the county to initiate the issuance of licenses for liquor stores. The implementation process, however, has taken several months to finalize.

Under the new regulations, a maximum of five licenses will be made available within each of the four county commissioner districts, resulting in a total allocation of no more than 20 licenses. To be eligible for consideration, retail establishments must conform to the standards outlined in the International Building Code. Additionally, the stores must encompass a minimum area of 1,500 square feet and be situated in a designated C-1 zone.

The sale of distilled spirits will be exclusively permitted in outlets dedicated solely to the retail vending of alcoholic beverages for off-site consumption. Notably, this excludes items such as ice and mixers from this restriction. The approved sales hours for these products will be from 8:00 a.m. to midnight, Monday through Saturday, and from 12:30 p.m. to 11:30 p.m. on Sundays. Moreover, the new regulations allow for a maximum of 52 tastings per year to be conducted at these retail stores.

Given the potential for a higher number of applications than available licenses during the initial offering, the Board of Commissioners has established specific criteria for license applications related to the sale of packaged distilled spirits.

The Walker County Planning Office, located at 122 Highway 95 in Rock Spring, will be the designated location to receive new applications. These applications will be accepted for a five-day period from September 5, 2023, through September 11, 2023, during the hours of 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

Applicants will be required to undergo a criminal background check. Successful applicants will then be evaluated by the Walker County Alcoholic Beverage Commission based on the following factors:

  1. Adequate zoning or a pending zoning change application for the proposed location.
  2. A minimum separation of 1,500 feet from all other potential locations, considering the nature of the commercial surroundings.
  3. Consideration of the nearby community’s predominant character, whether residential, industrial, or commercial.
  4. Proximity to public parks, playgrounds, and schools.
  5. Size of the intended retail space.
  6. Availability of sufficient off-street parking for customers.
  7. A notarized statement from a reputable financial institution confirming the applicant’s financial capacity to maintain a minimum retail inventory of distilled spirits valued at no less than $200,000.
  8. Adherence to all other stipulations outlined in Chapter 4 of the Walker County Code.

In scenarios where multiple applicants vie for a license at the same location and meet the established criteria, a randomized selection process among these applicants will be conducted to determine the recipient of the license for that particular location.

The Walker County Alcoholic Beverage Commission convenes on the fourth Thursday of each month at 6:00 p.m. The meetings take place at the Walker County Civic Center, located at 10052 Hwy 27 in Rock Spring. The forthcoming meeting is scheduled for September 28, 2023.