Local store wants an exception to sell alcohol

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LINCOLN, Neb. (KOLN) - An ordinance from the city of Lincoln that was issued back in 1994 is preventing a local grocer from getting a permit to sell alcohol.

The current ordinance prohibits the sell of alcohol within 100 feet of a neighborhood. One local store has been trying to change that by amending the ordinance to specifically identify grocery stores as exceptions.

According to Open Harvest Co-Op Grocery, the city has changed dramatically since the the ordinance was created.

"We think it's unfair that these national chains can come in and local businesses who have been around for 40 years, it is not a level playing field," said Amy Tabor, general manager at Open Harvest.

"We just want a level playing field. In the last 5-7 years, we have seen incredible competition enter our market," she added.

According to Tabor, stores like Open Harvest can not compete in the grocery store market of Lincoln without selling alcohol.

"From national competitors, almost every year we have a new competitor that comes in, and they sell this wide arrangement of products that we are not allowed to sell," she said.

According to the city's planning department, the ordinance was written to protect Lincoln's older, core neighborhoods.

"If it's now opened up for grocery stores, perhaps pharmacies and convenient stores aren't far behind. Then the question is what are we really regulating at this point," said Brian Will, planner with the city.

Those opposed to amending the ordinance had concerns about the impact an over abundance of liquor sales would have on the city.

The planning commission scheduled to revisit the issue at their meeting on November 15th.